Gary Gannon TD

The Government must commit to implementing in full the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.

“I have long held the view that criminalising addiction is not the way forward. I therefore welcome the assembly members’ majority vote in favour of a comprehensive health-led response to personal drug use instead of a continuation of the State’s failed law and order approach.

“We have known for a long time that a criminal response to drug addiction is harmful and counterintuitive. Criminalising addicts demonises them for life and denies them the opportunity of a future career or a fresh start.

“Countries such as Portugal decriminalised drug use more than two decades ago in favour of a health-based approach to addiction. As a result, it recorded a significant drop in drug deaths. Drug injection rates also declined, especially among young people and new users.

“It is vital that the Government is bound by the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations and that a clear timeline is set out for any legislative changes that may be needed. A major investment in addiction services, including a substantial increase in detox beds, will also be required.

“Communities ravaged by drug addiction, particularly in socially deprived areas, have waited long enough for action.”

October 23, 2023

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