Press release

Greens call for Citizens Assembly on Drugs to “be brave”

14th February 2023
Neasa Hourigan TD

The Green Party has strongly welcomed cabinet agreement on a new Citizens’ Assembly on drug use - calling on the future assembly to be brave when it comes to drug laws.

The Assembly will consider drug issues - including reform of legislation. It will start its work in April and deliver its conclusions by the end of this year. It will be made up of 99 randomly-selected members of the general public.

The Green Party fought to secure a commitment to the Assembly in the 2020 Programme for Government, as a key step in drug law reform and have continued to highlight  and prioritise the establishment of the Assembly throughout the last three years.

The Party’s 2020 manifesto calls for a shift to health-led drug policy, including drug law reform, allowing cannabis prescription, and various measures to decriminalise personal possession.

Green Party health spokesperson, Neasa Hourigan TD, said;

“This is a major step forward for drug policy in Ireland. We need an evidence-based drug policy that comes from a position of harm reduction. Thousands of people in addiction are treated as the enemy, rather than someone in need of help.

“The consequences of our approach to drugs affect all parts of our society, undermining our health and justice systems, driving homelessness, and supporting organised crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Members of the Citizens’ Assembly need to look at the evidence and be brave in their recommendations. Once we know the assembly’s conclusions, the government must act to protect people in addiction.”

Green Party Minister of State Ossian Smyth TD, who has worked in government to deliver the assembly said;

“Ireland’s drug policy is letting down people in addiction, their families, and the communities around them. A Citizens’ Assembly is a positive, inclusive way to move our country’s drug policies to a modern, compassionate, and effective model.

“Criminalisation has been used in Ireland for decades, and it simply hasn’t worked. We need to look at what they’re doing in other countries and learn from best practices. 

“All of us in government need to pay close attention to the discussions and conclusions of the Citizens’ Assembly. There are too many years of failure behind us: it’s time for change.”

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