Home > Not criminals. Underpinning a health-led approach to drug use.

Keane, Marcus and Csete, Joanne and Collins, John and Duffin, Tony (2018) Not criminals. Underpinning a health-led approach to drug use. Dublin: Ana Liffey Drug Project and London School of Economics.

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This report by the Ana Liffey Drug Project and the London School of Economics calls for the decriminalisation of people who use drugs in Ireland.



That Ireland decriminalise possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. Continued criminalisation of people who use drugs is unsupportable by the best available evidence as a policy choice, and is in stark contradiction to a health-led policy for drug use.


That, in designing such a policy, the focus is on pragmatic interventions which focus on health, and include the following:

  1. Threshold limits which are reasonable, reflect the lived experience of people who use drugs and which serve as broad guidelines, not as inflexible standards. To protect against people attempting to thwart the system, intent should also be a key consideration for decision makers where people are in possession of small amounts
  2. Sanctions which are not punitive, but solely health based, supportive, voluntary and with as many opportunities afforded to the individual as needed. The sanctions chosen should recognise that not all drug use is problematic, and where possible, utilise existing structures and services, with defined pathways and interventions set in advance
  3. Decisions that are taken as close to the first point of contact as possible
  4. Training for health workers, educators, law enforcement and judiciary on the aims and implementation of the new system 

That any policy that is introduced be independently evaluated in terms of implementation and impact, and that adequate resources be made available for this purpose.

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