Two oppositions parties have pushed for major reforms to legislation in an effort to decriminalise some drugs.

People Before Profit and Labour are lobbying for changes to existing laws following similar developments in other countries.

But the Minister for State with responsibility for drugs strategy said the Government does not plan to decriminalise.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said his Private Members' Bill to decriminalise cannabis for personal use was an important first step in moving towards regulating the drug rather than treating it as a criminal matter.

He said he is bringing forward the legislation because it is "a waste of time and resources bringing people through the criminal justice system" for possessing cannabis.

"The current legislation is meant to be a deterrent but it has done the opposite. It has driven it underground and it is now largely controlled by the black market.

"There is a groundswell of opinion for a different narrative and a different status quo," Mr Kenny said.

The bill will amend the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act and will allow anyone over the age of 18 to have up to 7g of cannabis or 2.5g of cannabis resin for their personal use.

According to Mr Kenny, the current legislation is out of date and out of time and "it is time to have a different narrative in relation to drug reform".

He said giving people criminal convictions for small amounts of cannabis "is barbaric, it follows them around forever".

Mr Kenny described his proposed bill as "quite moderate" as it does not make cannabis legal, rather it removes the criminal penalty for the person who is using the drug.

Labour Party motion

Separately, the Labour Party is due to put forward a motion on decriminalising drugs in the Dáil next Wednesday.

Aodhán Ó'Ríordáin said that 70% of drug cases in the courts system are for possession for personal use, which he said was a complete waste of garda time, the courts' time and of the criminal justice system time.

"We need to have a more honest discussion. There has been an assumption that this is a Dublin problem or a disadvantaged area problem.

"This issue is in every part of the country amongst every income group, urban, rural, north, south, east and west, young and old," Mr Ó'Ríordáin said.

He cited the example of Portugal where they decriminalised possession for personal use 20 years ago.

"What happened since then is that you have a 50% reduction in the number of people who are in drug treatment programmes and a 75% reduction in the number of fatal overdoses," he said.

Mr Ó'Ríordáin said the Labour Party motion will not reference individual substances as that distracts from the essential point, which is inequality.

"If you criminalise the person who is taking drugs, you are not serving that person well," he said.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Frank Feighan, who has responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, confirmed that a Citizens' Assembly, under the Programme for Government is being initiated and it is due to take place early in the new year.

He told RTÉ News the current Government policy is to follow the National Drugs Strategy, which is a "health-led rather than a criminal justice approach to drug use".

However, he confirmed there are currently no plans to legalise or decriminalise drugs.

Minister Feighan said a lot of work has been done on the Citizens' Assembly and on its terms of reference and it should be very informative in terms of moving the drugs policy forward.