Ireland Introduces Radical Decriminalization Policy To Address Addiction
Ireland is taking radical steps to face drug and alcohol addiction, introducing new legislation that will allow for the opening of injection rooms and would also decriminalize small amounts of heroin, cocaine and cannabis. The Minister of National Drugs Strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, outlined the plans in a speech to the London School of Economics earlier today.
First, a new Misuse of Drugs Bill will help to remove addiction from the criminal justice system with the idea that compassion is actually more effective in treating this disease.
"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." - Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
The goal is to remove the stigma attached to addiction and rather than convicting users, actually give them the tools to break their addictions and avoid racking up a criminal history. Ó Ríordáin's speech emphasized the difference between legalization and decriminalization, asserting that while selling and profiting from illicit drugs is a crime, the act of using should not be. Supervised injection rooms are, therefore, an attempt to offer the support to break addiction cycles. The first injection room will open in Dublin next spring with more opening in Cork, Galway and Limerick later in the year.
"These are clinically controlled environments which aim to engage hard-to-reach populations... Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours."
A video captured during an event in Dublin this past June called "Support. Don't Punish" organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy explains the ideas behind this radical approach to drug and alcohol addiction.