Many of the nations of the world have been taking new, progressive steps to dealing with the plague of drugs on communities. The “War on Drugs” is being reconsidered, and drug addiction is increasingly being treated like a health issue, more than a criminal issue. Decriminalization of drugs has proven to cut down on prison overcrowding, overdoses and overall crime in places where it has been put into place. The next major nation to test decriminalization out, is Ireland. The European nation’s government is looking to decriminalize cannabis, cocaine and heroin in the near future.
One of the more interesting aspects of Ireland’s decriminalization effort, is the proposed establishment of medically-supervised injection centers. At these sites (which will be opened in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick), medical professionals will oversee and moderate the injection of drugs by users. This move is to reduce overdoses and diseases contracted by casual users on the street.
“Too often those with drug problems suffer from stigma, due to a lack of understanding or public education about the nature of addiction. This stigma can be compounded for those who end up with a criminal record due to possession of drugs for their own use,” said Minister of Drugs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, in a speech. “Addiction is not a choice, it’s a healthcare issue. This is why I believe it is imperative that we approach our drug problem in a more compassionate and sensitive way.”
Think Progress gives reports of other nations that have decriminalized or legalized drugs:
Portugal took drastic action as early as 2001, when it decriminalized all drug use. Instead of jail time, drug users face fines and community service. The impact of the 2001 law has been significant, with drug use among adults and youth dropping ever since it went into effect. HIV is far less common among drug users, and the overdose rate is lower than every other country in the European Union except Romania.
In 2009, Mexico took a similar step by decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and methamphetamine.
In Colombia and Peru, cocaine possession and cultivation is legal. The drug is decriminalized in Switzerland and Germany. Both countries permit cocaine for medical use, as do the U.K, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Heroine is similarly permitted for medical purposes in Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and the U.K. Brazil could also decriminalize all drug possession in the near future. Supreme Court arguments were heard in September.