Recreational drug use and the law


Sir, – Sean Dunne appears to not only have entirely missed the point of the proposal, but also has incorrectly taken as a given that they would lead to increased drug use (“Ireland’s youth will suffer from looser drug laws”, Opinion & Analysis, July 20th). That has not been the case in Portugal, or the Czech Republic, which has had similar laws for almost 20 years.

Notwithstanding the above, Mr Dunne may be interested to know that the intent of such proposals are principally in reducing Garda time and State funds being spent dealing with personal drug use, which is essentially ineffective as a deterrent. In respect of the other points of his article, Mr Dunne may also be interested to know that a series of anecdotes does not constitute a sound argument. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Sean Dunne, in his article denouncing the proposed decriminalisation of possession of some illegal drugs, paints a vividly grim picture of the potential negative consequences of drug use. However, he seems to miss the point of the proposed legislation.

First, if his portrayal of rampant unrestrained drug-taking among younger people is reflective of the lives of millennials (who, incidentally, are not the homogeneous, undifferentiated mass described in the article), it should be quite clear to anyone that the current framework placing drug use within the criminal justice system does not act as any sort of deterrent for people to whom drugs “are as commonplace as beer was for our parents”.

Second, Mr Dunne fails to see the implications of his argument. He describes witnessing a young girl in a panic at a music festival whimpering “Do you think she is going to die?” while paramedics attended to her friend who was in a collapsed state nearby. I fail to see how any right-thinking person could argue that the optimum way to deal with this situation would be to have this young girl facing arrest and then pursued through the courts with the aim of securing a criminal prosecution. Yet by advocating the maintenance of the status quo, that is exactly what Mr Dunne is calling for.

Illicit drug use can have highly detrimental effects on health, up to and including death. The way to counter this is to treat drug use as a health issue and deal with it as such. There is nothing to be gained by creating additional social problems and causing further damage to individuals through the criminal justice system. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.

Sir, – Sean Dunne states that the plan to decriminalise drug use sends the wrong message to his generation. He also makes the point that these laws would put Ireland on a par with Portugal, which has had this policy for several years. He completely ignores the results of this policy – the reality is that Portugal’s drug situation has improved significantly in areas such as drug related deaths and HIV infections. He accuses the Taoiseach and Minister for Health of being blind to drug abuse and wants them to “open their eyes” the next time they attend a music festival. I would encourage Sean Dunne to open his eyes and read the reports of the dramatic drop of drug abuse in Portugal since 2001. – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.