Decriminalising drug use a dangerous move
THERE is a suggestion that drug users found with a small amount of substances in their possession could avoid criminal conviction if it is for their own use. This is one aspect of drug culture which will be examined in the National Drugs Strategy, to be published this week.
For years, the argument has been made that the dealers, and not the addicts should be punished but I don’t see how letting them avoid conviction will help the users themselves or indeed society as a whole.
Of course the dealers who are the ones peddling the poison should be punished but those who purchase and consume illegal drugs should also face the courts.
The pushers have a lot to answer for. They prey on the vulnerable and the weak and they feed and exploit their addictions.
However, we cannot send the message out that anyone who has drugs on them will not be prosecuted if what they possess is simply for their own use.
Addiction is one of the most damaging and destructive blights on Irish society and the acts that drug addicts often carry out to feed their habit are a consequence of this.
If they were told that they are immune from prosecution I fear this could open the floodgates even further.
At present, anyone who comes before the courts on a first offence for a minor possession charge can often avoid conviction anyway, if they make a suitable donation to charity.
If this isn’t a wake-up call then they deserve to be conviction on a second offence. How many chances can the courts be expected to give defendants who time and time again present themselves?
These ‘small time’ addicts are costing the state millions every year – Garda time, courts services, free legal aid, probation services, addiction services and sometimes prison services and they are given every opportunity to avail of support if they wish. If these services are pulled away from them by allowing them to feed their addictions unquestioned then what will become of many of them?
It would be a disservice to society to allow anyone who is engulfed in addiction, who is also a victim, to continue to harm themselves without fear of prosecution.
The drugs that are illegal in this country are illegal for a reason – because they are deadly and destroy lives – regardless of the quantity.
Drugs are illegal in this country for a reason.