Patrick Costello, Green Party TD for Dublin South, speaking today following the launch of the Citizen Assembly on Drugs final report.
He began “I welcome the launch of this report, this was something that we pushed hard for in the Programme for Government so I am glad to see that it happened in the lifetime of this Government . This is a significant body of work which should guide the immediate changes which can be carried out to improve services and alleviate the impacts of drugs on individuals and communities. There are several recommendations within this report which can be implemented relatively quickly and do not need legislative changes but it’s a matter for the Government and Minister to now focus on implementing these changes as a matter of urgency.”
He continued “There have been several reports over the years, in that time thousands of people have lost their lives, directly due to addiction, but also as a result of organised crime and drug related violence. When I was a social worker, I saw first hand the impact of drug addiction on individuals and family lives. Whilst there are longer term changes to be made to drug policy and legislation, we can allocate increased resources to civil society organisations who deal with addiction on the frontlines within a matter of weeks.”
“Just over a year ago, the Oireachtas Justice Committee, which I am a member of, published a report examining drug possession and sanctions. That and the Citizen Assembly reports recommended similar changes; health led approach not a criminal justice approach, decriminalisation of the possession of drugs for personal consumption, prioritisation of support for marginalised groups and disadvantaged communities among others. These recommendations now must become a focus for the Minister to implement before the end of this government.”
He concluded ”Finally, I believe that the special committee which will be formed to comb through this report also needs to consider other proposals to be included in future legislative changes such as Senator Lynn Ruanes’ Spent Convictions bill and cannabis cultivation proposals put forward by Crainn and others. Whilst I welcome the Citizen Assembly report, it could have gone further. We can decriminalise possession but unless we provide potential legal avenues for people to acquire or cultivate certain drugs, like they do in Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Malta for example, they will still be supplied by criminal gangs who will continue to wreck havoc on the lives of individuals and communities.”