Criminalising drugs stigmatises addiction, says Lynn Ruane

‘We cannot continue to separate the addict from the dealer,’ says Senator

Senator Lynn Ruane: told the Dáil the relentless war on drugs had failed long ago, with the addict becoming collateral damage.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Senator Lynn Ruane: told the Dáil the relentless war on drugs had failed long ago, with the addict becoming collateral damage. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 
Lynn Ruane

She said the relentless war on drugs had failed long ago, with the addict becoming collateral damage.

“We cannot continue to separate the addict from the dealer,’’ she said.

Ms Ruane told the Seanad she had dozens of conversations in recent weeks with people who both sold and used substances.

Ms Ruane was speaking during a debate on the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill, including prescription drugs sold illegally within the remit of existing legislation.

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“We will never control the flow of drugs by banning them,’’ she added. “Instead, we should create policy that increases access to drug treatment and addresses inequality and poverty.’’

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said addiction was not just about the substance, it was about circumstances, disconnection and marginalisation. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why we still think it is a good idea to effectively criminalise marginalisation and addiction.”

Mr Ó Ríordáin said it made absolutely no sense to try to dissuade somebody from a life of addiction by criminalising them for their drug life.