Change our drug laws – Timmins

by Ian Begley

All drugs should be decriminalised, according to a Clondalkin politician, and people found with drugs for personal use should be free from criminal conviction.
Cllr Francis Timmons (Ind) told The Gazette that those found with drugs for personal use should be given a warning, a fine or be directed to drug awareness classes for treatment.
He added: “In cases where a person is found to be selling or importing drugs, or engaged in theft, assault, intimidation, smuggling, trafficking or dealing they should still be prosecuted under the criminal justice system.
“We should consider decriminalisation because it would reduce criminal justice costs and [the money saved] could be redirected towards tackling organised crime.”
Although Cllr Gino Kenny (PBP) said he did not know the consequences of decriminalising drugs he nevertheless believed Government should legalise cannabis.
He said: “The Government should definitely decriminalise cannabis because [it can be used for] medicinal purposes. The question of decriminalising all drugs however is a very nuanced and loaded argument.
“I think it would have a yin and yang effect. Legalising all drugs would take the crime out of it, but I don’t think Ireland is ready yet,” said Cllr Kenny.
In July, Junior Minister for the national drugs strategy Aodhan O’Riordan (Lab) hosted a “think tank” on the drug problem at the Mansion House in Dublin.
There was wide consensus at the event that drugs across the board should be decriminalised. Minister O’Riordan said the issue would be considered in both the drugs strategy, currently under review, and the country’s foundation legislation on narcotics, the Misuse of Drugs Act, which he hopes to update by the end of the year.
Tony Duffin, director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, attended the meeting. He told The Gazette that he believed decriminalisation, based on the Portuguese model, should be implemented in Ireland, but agreed more discussion on the matter was needed.
He said: “Portugal decriminalised drugs in the early 2000s and since then they had a number of significant outcomes in terms of success. People in Ireland are looking at that model and saying that maybe we can have similar successes.
“The principal of decriminalisation is to move people away from the justice system and move them towards treatment and rehabilitation. The Ana Liffey Drug Project would be open to the ideas of decriminalisation based on this model, but I would like to see the discussion being carried on,” said Duffin.
People in Clondalkin with drug or alcohol problems are encouraged to seek help from the Clondalkin Local Drugs Task Force. Its overall aim is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concentrated focus on curbing supply and using prevention, treatment and research to tackle the problem.
Phone 01-4579445 or visit www.clondalkindrugstaskforce.ie for more information on this service.

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