An Oireachtas committee has recommended the decriminalisation and regulation of drugs for personal use, "in line with emerging international best-practice".

The Joint Committee on Justice published a report examining the issue, saying it acknowledged the harm associated with "pursuing a criminal justice-led approach to drug use and misuse".

In a statement, the committee said it recommends "that a policy of decriminalisation is pursued, in line with emerging international best-practice, in respect of the possession of drugs for personal consumption".

This should be achieved through law reform "in favour of a health-led approach to problem drug use", it said.

The cultivation of some currently illicit substances at a "modest, non-profit level" should also be examined and could be regulated, the committee said.

It also recommended that the Government take steps to introduce a regulatory model for certain drugs.

On the issue of access to cannabis for those with chronic illnesses, where other treatments have failed to relieve symptoms, the committee recommended the expansion of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme.

The committee also referenced the role that poverty, inequality and trauma can play in drug use and addiction, recommending a "trauma-informed approach" to addiction services. It said that increased investment should also be made into programmes and services that focus on harm reduction, social interventions and dual diagnosis services.

An educational campaign on drug use and harm reduction was also recommended by the committee.

A drug testing pilot scheme, which was first trialled at the Electric Picnic festival this year, should also be expanded, the committee said.

A copy of the report containing the recommendations has been sent to the Minister for Justice.


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Chair of the committee, TD James Lawless, said the committee "recognised the ongoing and significant problems with drug addiction in Ireland and the tragic impact this has on societies, communities and families".

"The committee heard figures during its public engagement that the rate of drug deaths in Ireland ranks at three times the European average and that these figures are among the highest within the EU," he said.

"The written submissions received and, at our meetings, the witnesses provided the committee with an insight into several areas where it was felt that Ireland's approach towards drug policies could be re-examined.

"Among these areas include the potential to decriminalise the possession of certain amounts of drugs for personal use, the potential to introduce a regulatory model surrounding drug usage, the potential benefits or drawbacks of such approaches, and the experiences and policies of other jurisdictions in relation to drug use and possession."