Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
Addiction Treatment Services
463. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the work of the working group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29705/20]
The report of the Working Group to consider the approaches taken in other jurisdictions to the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use was submitted to the Ministers for Health and for Justice and Equality at the end of April 2019.
The Ministers, having considered the recommendations in the report, prepared a proposal which was agreed at Cabinet in July 2019 to introduce a health-led approach. This approach will connect people who use drugs with health services and a pathway to recovery, avoiding a criminal conviction, which can have far-reaching consequences for people, particularly younger people.
The Programme for Government commits to implementing the Health Diversion Programme as an important step in developing a public health-led approach to drug use. A review of the Programme will take place following the first full year of the programme’s implementation, to ensure that it is meeting all of its aims.
An implementation, monitoring and evaluation group, chaired by the Department of Health, is implement the Health Diversion Programme. The Group is currently examining proposals to commence implementation of the Health Diversion Programme on an administrative basis in a number of locations throughout the country ahead of a nationwide roll out of the programme.
I am committed to a health-led approach for possession of drugs for personal use. It is important that we treat drug use as a health issue and give people who use drugs the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction. I look forward to the commencement of the health diversion programme in 2021.