The government established a Working Group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use in December 2017. The formation of this group was a key action in the National Drugs Strategy, Reducing Harm Supporting Recovery.
The work programme of the group consisted of meetings with experts from other countries, commissioning research on other jurisdictions and undertaking a public consultation. The consultation process included an online questionnaire, focus groups and an open policy debate. The online questionnaire received a response of over 20,000 people.
The Working Group’s report was submitted to Ministers Harris, Flanagan and Byrne at the end of April 2019, along with a minority report from the Chairperson.
The report considered a range of approaches from depenalisation to decriminalisation and identified five policy options. Of these, the report recommends three policy options:
The government has decided to implement a Health Diversion Approach, having considered the recommendations in the reports.
Under this new system, when a person is found in possession of drugs for personal use the Government has agreed to implement a health diversion approach whereby:
The report of the Working Group and the minority report can be accessed below.