The Minister for Health Simon Harris described today as “a very significant day” in Government drug policy as he outlined reforms to the possession of drugs for personal use.
There are two components to the ‘health diversion approach’ whereby a person in possession of drugs, determined by An Garda Síochána to be for personal use, on the first occasion would be referred by An Garda Síochána on a mandatory basis to the HSE for a health screening and brief intervention.
On the second occasion, An Garda Síochána would have discretion to issue an ‘adult caution’.
“This is a very significant day. For far too long, we have only looked at drug use from a criminal justice perspective,” said Minister Harris.
“Addiction has impacted so many families and many communities. It is essential we look beyond the labels society forces on people with addiction, look to the person and how the system can help them.
“Today is the start of a new approach. One that offers people a helping hand, not handcuffs. One that offers a person a second chance. I strongly believe this will help us battle drug addiction and ultimately save lives.”
Minister Harris added, “this approach will not decriminalise drug use; it is a mechanism to defer people to health and social services for help and support.”
The Government said that the ‘health diversion approach’ seeks to connect drug users with health services and to support them on their path to recovery.