Ireland's Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy yesterday revealed plans to decriminalise the personal use of cocaine, cannabis and heroin "early next year".
Speaking to The Irish Times before he announced the plans at the London School of Economics, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the opinions on drug misuse and addiction could only change if those found in possession were not criminalised.
"Too often those with drug problems suffer from stigma, due to a lack of understanding or public education about the nature of addiction. This stigma can be compounded for those who end up with a criminal record due to possession of drugs for their own use."
Supervised heroin-injecting centres in Dublin, hoped to be followed in Cork, Galway and Limerick, are also among the plans, with a new Misuse of Drugs Bill being compiled to allow this to happen.
Ríordáin believes providing "clinically controlled environments" for heroin users would pave the way for a different view on substance abuse.
He said: "I am firmly of the view there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction.
"Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours."
This doesn't mean that selling drugs would become legal, though, just that users taking illicit substances would receive "treatment and rehabilitation based on a continuum of care with clearly defined referral pathways."
This comes after Sir Richard Branson claimed that an unpublished United Nations document called on governments to rethink their drugs policies while a selection of Australian MPs want to follow Portugal's lead in providing drugs users with health treatment, a law Mediterranean the country has had since 2001.
[ Via: Dazed Digital]