Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Department of Health
The Programme for Government includes the commitment to convene a Citizen’s Assembly to consider matters relating to drug use. The timing of this, and other assemblies, over the lifetime of the Government has yet to be determined. Consideration of the Citizen’s Assembly on drugs use (including the methods by which engagements can take place) is at an early stage.
The Government is committed to a health-led approach to drug use. In line with this, the Department of Health is leading on the implementation of the Health Diversion Programme for individuals found in possession of drugs for personal use. This programme is based on the recommendations of an expert working group in 2019, informed by 20,000 public responses to an online survey. This programme will be reviewed after the first full year of implementation, to ensure that it is meeting all of it aims and to make any necessary changes.
In addition, the Department of Health is coordinating a mid-term review of the actions in the national drugs strategy, with the expectation that an updated set of actions will be agreed in Q1 2021.
I am committed to a health-led approach to drug use. I look forward to the commencement of the Health Diversion Programme in 2021. The learnings to be derived from this programme could help inform the focus of a Citizen’s Assembly on drugs use in due course.