Aodhan O Riordain, the chief of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy, announced on Nov. 2 that the country is planning to decriminalize small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and marijuana, in 2016.
O Riordain made the announcement during a speech at the London School of Economics, according to The Independent.
He added that drug users will be provided with special injection rooms in Dublin and that he hoped more would follow in Cork, Galway and Limerick.
However, it would still be a crime to sell or distribute illicit drugs.
“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction,” O' Riordain told The Irish Times.
He added that the injection rooms would not be “free-for-all” sites for drug addicts.
“These are clinically controlled environments which aim to engage hard-to-reach populations,” O' Riordain said.
"Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centers is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviors," he added.
The next administration will have to follow through on the proposed changes per the Misuse of Drugs Bill, but there is a “strong consensus that drugs across the board should be decriminalized."
“This will be a wider discussion under the next government, but once people get their head around the argument, about what decriminalization actually means, that policy won’t be about the drug but about the individual," O Riordain said.
"Then, regardless of the drug, the individual needs an intervention, and society will be saying, ‘The substance is illegal, but you are not a criminal for taking it.'"