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Ireland to Decriminalize Pot and Other Contraband Substances

Maureen Meehan

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As part of Ireland’s so-called “radical cultural shift,” the country intends to decriminalize pot, heroin and cocaine.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Minister of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy (NDS), also announced that drug users in Ireland will be able to use medically supervised injecting rooms in cities such as Dublin, starting next year.

Ó Ríordáin said attitudes about drugs need to move away from shaming addicts to helping them by bringing compassion to the issue and removing it from the criminal justice system. The key to this, he said, would be to prevent drug addicts from ending up with criminal convictions.

“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction,” Ó Ríordáin told the Irish Times.

He noted the difference between legalization and decriminalization, saying it would still be a crime to profit from selling or distributing illegal drugs—but that it would not be a crime to be a drug user or addict.

The so-called “injecting rooms,” Ó Ríordáin explained, will be “clinically controlled environments which aim to engage hard-to-reach populations,” including the homeless, in attempts to remove the stigma associated with drug addiction and encourage users to seek treatment.

“Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centers is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviors,” he said.

The Irish Minister’s announcement comes in the wake of a leaked U.N. document, which indicated that U.N. may call for global decriminalization of all drug consumption on public health and human rights grounds.  

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