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Drug Legislation (Ireland)

The Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 and 1984 and the Regulations made thereunder are the main laws regulating drugs in Ireland. They include controls relating to cultivation, licensing, possession, administration, supply, record-keeping, prescription-writing, destruction and safe custody. They also establish the offences and penalties.

The Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977 (Controlled Drugs) Declaration Order, 1987 extend the list of substances, products and preparations to be controlled for the purposes of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977.

In 1984 the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 widened the scope of the criminal law and procedures to deal more effectively with serious crime, including serious offences under the Misuse of Drugs Acts.

In November 1993 a new text was introduced to control precursors and essential chemicals, the Misuse of Drugs (Scheduled Substances) Regulations, 1993. With these acts Ireland meets with the obligations relevant to the control of precursors, under the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988, and under EC Directives 92/109 and EC Regulation 3677/90. The Regulations control production, supply, importation, exportation and possession of the precursors substances.

In 1994 the Criminal Justice Act, 1994 provided for the seizure and confiscation of assets derived from the proceeds of drug trafficking and other offences. It contains provisions related to money laundering and allows for international co-operation in respect of certain criminal law enforcement procedures, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of crime, and related matters. The Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996 permits the detention of a person suspected of having committed a drug trafficking offence for up to a maximum of seven days. The Misuse of Drugs Regulations, 1988 sets out the arrangement to facilitate the licence control over the lawful production, supply, importation and exportation of the drugs to which the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984, apply.

The Criminal Justice Act, 1999 amends the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977 to provide for a new drug related offence. The new section (15A) creates a new offence related to the possession of drugs, with a value of €12 700 or more, for the purpose of sale or supply. A person found guilty of such an offence may be imprisoned for up to life and be subject to an unlimited fine. The Act also provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. However, the mandaory minimum sentence shall not apply where the court is satisfied that there are exceptional and specific circumstances which would make it unjust in all the circumstances to impose the minimum ten year sentence. In addition, where it is found that addiction was a substantial factor leading to the commission of the offence, the sentence may be reviewed after half of the mandatory period, at which time the court may suspend the remainder of the sentence on any condition it sees fit.

In 2000 new regulations (Customs-free Airport (Extension of Laws) Regulations, 2000) were introduced to extend drug controls under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 and 1984, and the Irish Medicines Board Act, 1995, to include the Customs free area at Shannon airport. This instrument extends the import/export controls under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 and 1984 to this area. It also allows Irish Medicines Board to inspect any company within the customs free area at the Customs Free Airport.

The Criminal Justice Act 2006 includes: provisions for creating criminal offences in relation to participation in criminal organisations; proposals to strengthen the provisions on the imposition of the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug trafficking; new offences of supplying drugs to prisoners and provisions in relation to a drug offenders register. The Irish Human Rights Commission has raised a number of concerns about some of the provisions of the Act. (For more information see the Irish National Report 2006)

The Criminal Justice Act 2007 provides for increased Garda detention powers, changes to existing provisions in relation to the right to silence and the introduction of mandatory sentencing for a range of offences. Many of these changes have been introduced in the context of growing concern about drug-related crime. (For more information see the Irish National Report 2007)

The Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010 covers substances which are not specifically proscribed under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, but which have psychoactive effects. (For more information see the Irish National Report 2010)

Further resources:

Wikipedia - Regulations (Lists drugs under each schedule)
Legislation provides for the Minister for Health to make regulations scheduling drugs according to their use perceived medical usability and their risk to the public. Additionally, these regulations outline the requirements for distribution and monitoring of the listed substances. The principal regulations are the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 (SI 328/1988) as amended by the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations 1993 (SI 342/1993), the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment No. 1) Regulations 1999 (SI 273/1999), the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 53/2006), the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 200/2007), the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (No. 1) Regulations 2009 (SI 63/2009), the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2009 (SI 122/2009) and the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2010 (SI 200/2010).

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