Skip to main content


13 June 2024 – The Chair of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use, Paul Reid, has told the inaugural meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Drugs Use that the national approach to drugs use needs to change and that the Assembly’s 36 recommendations to reduce the harm caused by illicit drugs use sets out a comprehensive way forward.

Addressing the first public meeting of the Committee that was established following the publication of the Assembly’s final report, Mr Reid said that the Assembly has proposed a comprehensive health-led response to drugs, including decriminalisation for people found in possession of drugs for personal use.

He expressed concern at the pace at which change of policy or strategy relating to harmful drug use takes place, given that the Assembly’s recommendations were agreed last October and formally presented to the Oireachtas in January. This followed 6-months of meetings by the 100 Assembly members where they heard from over 130 speakers and received 800 submissions.

He acknowledged the depth of experience, knowledge, and insight on the issue of drugs use among the members of the Committee. He said they have a unique opportunity to overhaul Irish drugs laws and effect meaningful change as long as action is taken at pace to make sure the Assembly’s recommendations are considered and implemented appropriately.

Recapping the Assembly’s main conclusions, Mr Reid said that the Assembly had proposed a new Irish model for addressing drugs misuse whereby possession of controlled drugs would remain illegal and prohibited by law, but that people found in possession of drugs for personal use would be afforded, first and foremost, extensive opportunities to engage voluntarily with health-led services.

Other key recommendations from the Assembly’s Report include:

  • Strengthened political oversight and accountability, through the establishment of a dedicated Cabinet Committee on Drugs, chaired by the Taoiseach;
  • Prioritisation of supports for marginalised groups and disadvantaged communities;
  • Enhanced funding, including additional and new sources of funding;
  • A greater focus on prevention and recovery;
  • Greater supports for families and children impacted by drug use;
  • Strengthened services, including the expansion of harm reduction measures and treatment and recovery services, both in prison and at community level;
  • Supply reduction, supporting the continued efforts of the Gardaí while strengthening the response to drug-related intimidation and violence by organised crime groups.

Mr Reid said that the details of how decriminalisation can be legislated for is a question that the Oireachtas should determine following detailed legal scrutiny. However, it was very clear that the report itself provide a strong and unequivocal signal from the Irish people to Government that the State needs to take a far more progressive, ambitious, comprehensive and coherent approach to complex and multifaceted issue of drugs use in Ireland.

Mr Reid was joined at the Committee meeting by members of the Assembly who participated in its work, and by two members of its Advisory Support Group.

Speaking to the members of the Committee, Mr Reid commented, “The State’s approach to drugs use needs to change. That was the conclusion reached by the 100 members of the Citizens’ Assembly and it is now over to members of this Committee to make that change happen.

“They know the damage and harm that illegal drugs use does to Irish people, their families, our communities, and the huge resources that are required across health, emergency, criminal justice, and community services to deal with the issue. That is why this Assembly was established to consider and propose a new policy approach.

“The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use has been the most comprehensive, inclusive, transparent, and informed examination of illicit drug use that has ever taken place in this State. This is why I urge the Oireachtas and the Government to embrace this new model. With the right ambition, resourcing, leadership, strategic direction, and determination, we can fundamentally transform how Ireland deals with drugs now and into the future. We must seize this opportunity for change.'”

A full copy of the final report and recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use is available at

For further information please contact Q4 Public Relations, Ronan Farren, , 087 934 0986 and Sabrina D’Angelo, , 086 032 3397

For further information please contact Q4 Public Relations, Ronan Farren, , 087 934 0986 or Sabrina D’Angelo,, 086 032 3397

Meeting between Citizens' Assembly delegation and Oireachtas Joint Committee on Drugs Use
Thursday 13th June 2024