Home > Report of the working group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use.

Working group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use. (2019) Report of the working group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use. Dublin: Department of Health and Department of Justice and Equality.

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URL: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Report_of_the_...


Recommended Policy Options

Option 1: Adult Caution

The Adult Caution Scheme is a discretionary alternative to prosecution, whereby a person found in possession of drugs for personal use could be given a formal caution by An Garda Síochána, who could also provide the individual with a health and social services information leaflet.

Option 2: Multiple Adult Cautions

Subject to the agreement of the DPP, a person could be given the benefit of an Adult Caution by An Garda Síochána more than once. This could provide a discretionary alternative to prosecution and criminal conviction on more than one occasion. The individual would also be provided with a health and social services information leaflet whenever they are given an Adult Caution in respect of possession of drugs for personal use.

Option 3: Diversion to Health Services

This option is based on a public health approach to drug use. People found in possession of drugs for personal use would be supported to address the harms of their drug use. A person in possession of drugs for personal use would be diverted for a brief intervention and screening; where necessary high-risk drug users would be offered onward referral for treatment or other supports.

Other Recommendations

(i) The Working Group recommends in principle amending the penalty scheme in Section 27 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 so that imprisonment is no longer an outcome for the possession of drugs for personal use, subject to a full examination of the legal implications and any unforeseen consequences.

(ii) The Working Group recommends a change to the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 so that all convictions for drug possession for personal use (Section 3 MDA) can be spent. In addition, the group recommends decreasing the seven year period to three years between the conviction and it becoming spent.

(iii) The Working Group considers it important that a dismissal or non-conviction under the Probation Act be recorded correctly and that this court outcome is clear when a person’s records are being checked.

(iv) The Working Group does not propose the introduction of threshold limits under current legislation. The Group recommends the retention of the statutory presumption to the effect that where the quantity of drugs involved renders it reasonable to assume that they were not for immediate personal use, they were possessed for the purpose of sale or supply.

(v) The Working Group recommends that there are pathways available at all levels of the criminal justice system to refer people to treatment following prosecution.

(vi) The Working Group recommends additional investment in services to support the policy option that is chosen.

(vii) The Working Group recommends a campaign to increase awareness of the treatments available and of the harms associated with drug use.

(viii) The Working Group recommends that any alternative approach introduced is monitored, has a data collection mechanism, an evaluation of the implementation and scope for appropriate modification

Date:2019
Pages:96 p.
Publisher:Department of Health and Department of Justice and Equality
Corporate Creators:Working group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use
Place of Publication:Dublin
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Problem substance use
G Health and disease > Public health
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Care by type of problem
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Policy > Policy on substance use
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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