- 31 Jan 20
The #SaferFromHarm people have been through their manifestos and discovered, in some cases, not a lot
Our colleagues from #SaferFromHarm, the civil society campaign to decriminalise people who use drugs, are urging their supporters to "vote for the parties and candidates that we believe best represent us, and who are in support of progressive drug policy in Ireland."
To help with this, they've examined the main parties' political manifesto and come up with the takeaways below. Hot Press has been urging our readers to do precisely the same thing, with https://www.hotpress.com/music/eamon-ryan-leo-varadkar-moving-towards-drugs-decriminalisation-ireland-22802042 offering analysis of whether the Green Party's support for drug decriminalisation might force Leo Varadkar's hand were the Greens were to go into coalition with Fine Gael. The Greens aside, there's a depressing lack of new thinking or willingness to follow the evidence - which is to Portugal.
Here's what #SaferFromHarm have come up with:
In their manifesto, The Green Party state that "the criminalisation of drug consumption is a counter-productive policy" that fails to address the public health impact of drugs and that "a more compassionate policy based on international best practice can be introduced." If in government, they commit to shifting drugs policy from a criminal justice approach to a public health approach by introducing reforms that include removing criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use.
Labour commit to formally recognising that addiction to drugs is a health issue and will not penalise minor possession of drugs by people who are addicted.
Sinn Féin and the Green Party are the only two larger parties that acknowledge the link between problematic drug use and mental health challenges, and want to improve the services for people with dual diagnosis.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael recognise drug use as primarily a health issue in their manifestos, but fail to set out concrete proposals on progressive drug policy.
The Social Democrats state that they believe in a holistic approach to drug use that takes both health and socio-economic factors into account. More specifically, they want to: "Examine best practice models regarding decriminalisation of the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use in line with the Portuguese model; recognise the frequent need to treat mental health conditions and addiction simultaneously; and ensure appropriate availability of dual diagnosis services throughout the country."
They also want to "expand a range of different harm reduction services; and fully implement the National Drug Strategy as a matter or urgency."
Meanwhile, Gino Kenny TD has highlighted another aspect of Fine Gael's reluctance to make meaningful drug policy changes.
"Three years today the HPRA commissioned a report on a review of access to medicinal cannabis in Ireland," he says. "It was meant to be a pathway for Doctors and patients to obtain and prescribe medical cannabis under the MCAP. To date not one person has been prescribed medical cannabis."