Criminalising those found in possession of drugs has negative consequences, activists say

Concerns are being raised over a Working Group's approach to dealing with people caught in possession of drugs.

Community networks involved in the National Drugs Strategy say there are indications the group's report, due to be given to the government in the coming weeks, will recommend that drug users continue to be dealt with through the criminal justice system.

An event to highlight the issue is taking place in Dublin later, with representatives from the National Family Support Network and the Ana Liffey Drugs Project among those attending.

Director of Citywide, which is hosting the event, is Anna Quigley.

She says criminalising those caught in possession is not the way forward.

"It's because they're harmful that we want to make sure that we have policy that actually works," said Ms Quigley.

"Again, we know from the evidence that criminalising people for using drugs has a lot of negative consequences for them and they are less likely to seek help, they are less likely to do well if they do look for help.

"It has long-term consequences."

She said that they have looked at a model that is similar to what is in place in Portugal.

Instead of a person being processed through the justice system when they are found in possession of drugs for their own use, they are referred into social and support services.

"That is the kind of approach we would like to see here because all the evidence shows that it is a far more effective way of dealing with someone's drug use."

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