Citizens’ Assembly recommends Oireachtas ‘decriminalise harmful drugs’

The Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use (CAD) has urged the Irish Government to decriminalise the possession of all hard drugs for personal use.

Launching the Assembly’s final report, CAD’s chair Paul Reid called for the wholesale liberalisation of laws on the possession of illegal drugs.

If implemented, the recommendation could “minimise, or potentially completely remove, the possibility of criminal conviction and prison sentences for simple possession”.


Reid said: “Our recommendation relates to all of those drugs that cause harm – cocaine, cannabis, heroin, opioids, benzos”.

He explained that the group backed a shift away from a “criminal justice-led approach for possession”, to a “decriminalised model”.

The Government will now consider the CAD’s “deliberations” so that “it can enhance the response to drug use, from a policy, legislative and service delivery perspective”.


Following the publication of the report, Cabinet approved a nine-month delay to TD Gino Kenny’s Misuse of Drugs (Cannabis Regulation) Bill 2022, which aims to legalise the possession of cannabis for personal use.

Danny Healy-Rae TD, who opposes the Bill, challenged those who claimed that cannabis is not dangerous, warning: “it is the gateway and stepping stone to harder drugs”.

Last month, a group of senior doctors wrote to the Government highlighting the dangers of cannabis addiction, such as “acute medical and mental health problems” for the individual, and “huge distress” for affected families.

Signatories to the letter included Prof Bobby Smyth, consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, public health expert Dr Ina Kelly, addiction specialist Dr Hugh Gallagher, and Prof Matthew Sadlier, a psychiatrist.

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