- 04 May 20
As they enter into formal talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael might it become a coalition red line issue?
As they enter into formal coalition talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the Green Party have called for sweeping reforms of Ireland's drug laws.
While it hasn't been publicly mentioned as one, might it prove to be as much of a red line issue for Eamon Ryan & Co. as the 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions each year until 2030? Hot Press certainly hopes so.
Under Enda Kenny, Fine Gael were content to have a Labour Minister for Drugs, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who succeeded in getting cabinet approval for the pilot Dublin medically supervised injecting centre.
There was widespread dismay among frontline Irish drug services last year when his Minister for Drugs successor, Catherine Byrne, opted to keep the possession of drugs for personal use within the criminal justice system.
"For many, it represents a weak and cowardly decision – perhaps by a government that is too occupied by Brexit to do the right thing," wrote our man Stuart Clark at the time in a scathing opinion piece that can be read here:
With Catherine Byrne losing her seat at the last election, we're guaranteed a new Minister for Drugs regardless of the outcome of the current coalition talks.
Whoever he or she turns out to be, we hope they'll be bolder and braver than the previous incumbent in bringing about meaningful change to Ireland's current drug laws, which are clearly not fit for purpose.
Here's the Green Party drug reform statement in full:
The Green Party believes the criminalisation of drug consumption is a counter-productive policy that perpetuates business models of organised crime and fails to address the public health impact of drugs. We affirm there is a more compassionate policy based on international best practice that could be introduced within existing constraints under international law. In government, the Green Party would shift drugs policy from a criminal justice approach to a public health approach, introducing these following reforms:
* Remove criminal penalties for possessing less than a week’s supply of a scheduled drug
* Review the status of all scheduled substances for medical potential, allowing for controlled cultivation as deemed appropriate for research purposes.
* Pardon and release non-violent, minor, drug offenders
* Support Dual Diagnosis so that the health system may address issues behind drug abuse
* Expand Low Threshold Residential Stabilization Services for holistic treatment
* Expedite drug testing services, particularly at festivals, nightclubs etc.
* Allow medically-supervised Drug Consumption Rooms for the phased withdrawal of heroin and other substances as deemed appropriate by the Minister for Health
* Support drug law reform on an international level
* Reschedule cannabis and its derivatives from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule IV drug
*Decriminalise the possession of fewer than five grams of cannabis products
*Decriminalise the possession of fewer than four cannabis plants on private property
* Allow prescription of cannabis-based medicines through pharmacies
* Tolerate regulated cannabis “coffeeshops” selling cannabis from licensed suppliers