Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jun 2016
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2016 The Irish Times
Author: Michael O'Regan


Legislation criminalising the possession of illegal drugs reinforced 
the stigma associated with addiction, Independent Senator Lynn Ruane has said.

She said the relentless war on drugs had failed long ago, with the 
addict becoming collateral damage.

"We cannot continue to separate the addict from the dealer," she said.

Ms Ruane told the Seanad she had dozens of conversations in recent 
weeks with people who both sold and used substances.

Ms Ruane was speaking during a debate on the Misuse of Drugs 
(Amendment) Bill, including prescription drugs sold illegally within 
the remit of existing legislation.


She said Ireland could not continue to ignore the positive 
progression of Portugal's decriminalisation policies. The British 
Journal of Criminology in 2010 had found Portugal had shown a 
reduction in imprisonment for drug-related charges and there had also 
been a surge in visits to addiction centres.

"We will never control the flow of drugs by banning them," she added. 
"Instead, we should create policy that increases access to drug 
treatment and addresses inequality and poverty."

Labour Senator Aodhan O Riordain said addiction was not just about 
the substance, it was about circumstances, disconnection and 
marginalisation. "For the life of me, I cannot understand why we 
still think it is a good idea to effectively criminalise 
marginalisation and addiction."

Mr O Riordain said it made absolutely no sense to try to dissuade 
somebody from a life of addiction by criminalising them for their drug life.
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