A Government Working Group is examining alternatives to criminal prosecution

The Government is asking the public for opinions around Ireland's laws on the possession of drugs for personal use.  

This time last year, the Government established a working group to look into alternatives to criminal conviction for minor drug possession.

Its part of the National Drug Strategy which aims to reduce the harm caused by drug use in the community.

The group is considering whether people caught with small quantities of drugs – including heroin, cocaine and cannabis – should escape criminal conviction.

It is due to make recommendations to Government within 12 months.

Health-led

Launching the public consultation this afternoon, the Minister of State for Drug Strategy, Catherine Byrne said the Government is committed to supporting a health-led approach to drug use.

"I am very conscious that a criminal conviction for drug possession can have a long term negative effect on a person’s ability to work and travel," she said.

"It can stigmatise a young person and prevent them from achieving their potential into the future."

She said the group is especially anxious to hear the views of young people and families who may be impacted by Ireland's current laws.

The Justice Minister Charlie noted that an "effective criminal justice system is one which operates in the best interest of society as a whole."

"I am keen to explore measures which would prevent situations where people, particularly young people, could descend into a life of offending and re-offending," he said. 

You can have your say on the plans by filling out the online questionnaire on the Department of Health's website.