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Home > Report of visit by a Committee delegation to examine the impact of Portuguese approach to the possession of certain drugs.

Ireland. Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. (2015) Report of visit by a Committee delegation to examine the impact of Portuguese approach to the possession of certain drugs. Dublin: Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality.

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The Joint Committee decided to undertake a study into the effects of crimes carried out in communities by gangs and held a number of public hearings in relation to this matter. In the course of its hearings on 18th February 2015, the Committee was told of an approach adopted by the authorities in Portugal whereby possession of drugs was not dealt with through the Criminal Justice system but by civil/administrative sanctions which has had a very positive result for the communities concerned. As drug supply is the main source of income to these groups operating in cities and towns throughout Ireland, the Committee decided to send a delegation to Portugal to examine this approach in more detail.

It should be noted that it is still an offence to take or possess drugs, but the offence is now treated in a similar way to a traffic offence. However, this approach only applies to possession of a quantity up to 10 day’s supply for personal use [Table 1]. Any person found in possession of drugs must report within 72 hours to a Commission for Addiction Dissuasion for a treatment programme tailored to the individuals needs in order to ensure the best possible result. Possession of more than this stated amount will result in the person falling outside this approach and it then becomes a criminal offence.

The delegation was told that in order to break the cycle and allow drug addicts the opportunity to move away from a life of drugs ‘positive discrimination’ for gaining employment was introduced. This system offered employers tax breaks to employ recovering addicts and the State would pay the employee an amount equal to the minimum wage. The employer was required to release the employee for their treatment/counselling until their programme had concluded. The delegation was told that in many cases, these employees gained full time employment and did not go back to using drugs.

The approach in relation to drugs has not resulted in an increase in drug taking nor has it resulted in Portugal becoming a destination for drug tourists. The number of HIV/AIDS cases has dropped dramatically.


Item Type
Report
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Report
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Policy
Date
June 2015
Pages
6 p.
Publisher
Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Corporate Creators
Ireland. Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality
Place of Publication
Dublin
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