Labour Party publishes ‘A New Approach to Addiction’

24 July 2018

The Labour Party has published their submission to the national consultation on personal possession of illegal drugs.

The submission prepared by Cllr Martina Genockey, Labour spokesperson on Health Promotion and Drugs Strategy and a working group of members, calls for a new approach to tackling addiction, by decriminalising the possession of drugs for personal use, as opposed to certain classes of drugs; and providing adequate funding to addiction services.

Cllr Genockey said:

“We need to take a compassionate approach to people who are addicted to drugs and help them overcome their addiction, and remove any barriers to getting help.

“No parent should be afraid to seek medical help for their children due to the fear of giving them a criminal record.

“Labour wants to decriminalise the person who is addicted to drugs. If someone is found in possession of any illegal drug for personal use, they shouldn’t be criminalised, rather they should be treated. In our submission to the national consultation on personal possession of illegal drugs we make this clear, and outline a new approach to addiction.

“Instead of a parent hesitating to get help when their child is using drugs for fear of a criminal record, we want access to a place in a drug education or treatment service, without a criminal record. Criminal records act not just as a barrier to securing work or housing, but also as a barrier to getting help. The approach to date has clearly failed, and the number of people struggling with addiction continues to grow.

“Where decriminalisation of the user has been implemented, like in Portugal, we have seen a fall in overdose deaths, drug related crime, problematic drug use, and a reduction in the number of people sent to jail for possession. This cultural shift took many years, but the successes are real.

“We are not proposing the legalisation of all substances, rather, we want to focus on helping people by removing the immediate threat of criminal sanctions. Possession of drugs would remain prohibited but not criminalised, as happens in Portugal.

“As part of this new approach in Ireland, funding must be significantly increased to provide better treatment services. We would instigate a major review of funding to ensure that people across Ireland can access detoxification and rehabilitation services in a timely manner. We would also increase funding immediately by €20 million, to go some way to reversing the cuts to the addiction budget that are still in place since 2009.

“In our submission we also outline our overall goals including timely access to good quality addiction services, action to increase the conviction rate for violent gangs involved in drug dealing, and prevention of addiction in the first place.”

ENDS

The Labour Party’s submission ‘A New Approach to Addition – Labour’s proposals for helping people with addiction’ policy statement is available here:

 https://www.labour.ie/download/pdf/a_new_approach_to_addiction.pdf

An internal working group of Cllr Martina Genockey, Cllr Dermot Lacey, Cllr Andrew Montague, Cllr Mick Duff, Sen Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, and Chloe Monahan of Labour Youth developed the policy statement.

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