As of last week, Ireland is continuing with their “radical cultural shift” to decriminalize marijuana, cocaine, and heroin for personal use.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the Minister of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy also announced that Ireland will be opening several medically supervised injecting rooms in cities such as Dublin starting in the New Year.These actions resemble a changing attitude about drugs and drug users.
Ó Ríordáin noted the difference between decriminalization and legalization, saying that to profit from selling or distributing illegal drugs will still remain a criminal act. However, it will not be a crime to be a drug user or addict.
In regards to the injection rooms to be opened in Dublin, Ó Ríordáin described them as “clinically controlled environments which aim to engage hard-to-reach population,” namely the homeless drug users.
While there will be attempts to encourage drug users to receive treatment for their addiction, these facilities will provide a safe haven for users that will hopefully curb the spread of disease and other risky behaviors.
The Irish Minister’s announcement comes in the wake of a leaked U.N. document, which called on the change in course of drug policy. The leaked document has since been taken down and rejected by the United Nations, however it is evidence that governments around the world are considering other options.
Richard Branson, the decriminalization advocate and eccentric billionaire responsible for the leak, wrote on his blog “This is a refreshing shift that could go a long way to finally end the needless criminalization of millions of drug users around the world”.
In response to the leak, the UNODC scrapped plans to release the paper and has gone on the record saying the leaked document was “not a final document”.