Drugs minister calls for decriminalisation

“Drug users get sucked into a very glamorous, lucrative, parallel economy, where you don’t need any qualifications to succeed,” Minister for Drug Policy,  Aodháin O’Ríordáin said.

Minister O’Ríordáin was amongst the panellists in a talk on drug policy in Ireland. The aim of the talk, according to Dan Kirby of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy DCU (SSDPDCU), who hosted the event, was to have an informal discussion “as if we were sitting at the kitchen table.”

The other panellists attending the talk in DCU last Tuesday were Ciara Sherlock of the Psychedelic Society of Ireland, as well as Grace Dyas, director of ‘Heroin’, and social activist.

The main focus of the event were that the drug injection centres are to be introduced to Ireland shortly, and whether decriminalisation is the next step forward. “I don’t think it makes sense to criminalise someone for a habit they have,” Minister O’Ríordáin said.

“It doesn’t make sense to be against drugs being taken in a responsible way when alcohol can be taken in such an irresponsible way”, Sherlock said.

The lack of education and understanding of drug abuse was credited as one of the key issues surrounding the topic. “What’s being taught doesn’t really face the reality of the situation. The current policy on drugs in Ireland is absolutely, utterly ineffective,” Minster O’Ríordáin said.

Dyas said one of the main discussions people should have on the issue should be the reasons why people become addicted to something, regardless of what kind of addiction it is. “Whether your addiction is watching six box sets of Game of Thrones, or injecting heroin into your eyeball, it’s the reasons why you’re doing it,” she said.

“You can’t use the “n” word, or the “k” word to describe an entire community, but you can use the “j” word.  And when you do that, you dehumanise them. Let’s stop calling people names and victim blaming,” Minister O’Ríordáin said of the attitude towards drug users.

Speaking after the event, Sherlock told The College View that one of the issues she hoped to raise more in future is the need for further education on the effects of drug abuse. “What I’d hope to bring up a bit more, which we didn’t get a chance to, is the lack of education within recreational drug use,” she said.

Jamie Concannon

Image credit: Jamie Concannon

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