Ireland this week appointed a new Minister of State with Responsibility for Drug Strategy, and his first task will be to examine whether drug laws need to be relaxed.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin will raise the issue in the Dáil as the current National Drugs Strategy expires next year.
“I believe someone who has an addiction issue should be dealt with through the health system and not the criminal justice system,” echoing the sentiments of Barack Obama.
“I think people – guards, the prison service – will probably agree with me on that. We have an opportunity through the legislation that is forthcoming the Misuse of Drugs Act to investigate that.”
He was quick to point out there is a big difference between decriminalisation and legalisation, but suggested that the latter will also be discussed.
“I am going to mark any hard calls on that but the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation is quite different,” he said.
“We need to have a proper discussion before we set off alarm bells in people’s heads.”