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Expert group should examine potential of decriminalisation

The proposer of the motion, Dublin GP Dr Cathal O’Sullivan, told the Medical Independent (MI) that he believed the motion was important in getting the issue discussed publicly.

“The issue has been exposed and talked about. That is sort of the purpose of this motion; it is to get more discussion going,” Dr O’Sullivan told MI.

“People need to sit down and look at the facts and look at what is happening in the US, in Portugal, in Canada, places where a more rational and evidence-based approach to treatment is happening.

“Look at what is happening there and examine it and see and talk about it. Drug treatment is a very emotive issue; people don’t always look at the evidence. People have these ideas in their head — they are against it or they are for it.

“People need to sit down and look at the facts and examine what is happening in the country, what the outcome of these things are. Then make decisions. It will take time — we are quite slow in advancing. That is not necessarily a bad thing, to be cautious and to look and see what is happening.”

Dr O’Sullivan added that he believed the medical profession and the IMO “definitely” have an important role to play on this issue.

The AGM also passed a motion calling on the HSE to urgently discuss with the union the best way to deliver general medicine and drug treatment services to the homeless.

“I think the way to deal with this problem is to empower and resource GPs who are willing to deal with the problem,” Dr O’Sullivan told MI.

“Because the best place to treat homeless people is in general practice if it’s at all possible. Big clinics, especially big clinics full of homeless people, would not be good places to treat people… We need to give people holistic care; they need medical cards, etc.”

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