There is a “bad smell” about the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use, a GP specialising in addiction medicine has claimed.
The assembly is meeting in Dublin for the first time today and is tasked with considering “the legislative, policy and operational changes the State could make to significantly reduce the harmful impacts of illicit drugs”.
It is made up of 99 members of the public and will be chaired by former HSE Chief Executive.
Despite this, Dr Garrett McGovern is concerned many taking part have already made up their mind on the issue.
“There was one notable name that has got very hard views on drug policy,” Dr McGovern told The Hard Shoulder.
“We had concerns about that because my understanding was the people that would be chosen would be very objective, biases would be ironed out and it just raised questions for me.
“To make this very clear, I have very definite views; I would refuse… point blank to be on that committee because of my biases.
“There needs to be public confidence in this process and I just think there’s just a bad smell about it at the moment for me.
“That’s my view - but I hope I’m wrong.”
Dr McGovern is the director of the Priory Medical centre, which treats people suffering from addiction with cognitive behavioural therapy.
His views on lean towards decriminalisation and the regulation of certain drugs.
“If you look at the joint Justice Committee’s report, I was largely happy with that,” he said.
“I know there were a lot of people in the medical profession [who] weren’t happy with that.
“That looked at decriminalisation, opening up the injection centres - which shouldn’t really be an issue at this stage - the legislation has paved the way.
“There was stuff about heroin assisted treatment - which I thought was very proactive - and there was a recommendation there about a small amount of cannabis for personal use in terms of growing cannabis.
“[There was also calls for] better treatment provision and moving towards maybe more of a Portuguese model in terms of drug policy - I was largely happy with that.”
The Citizens’ Assembly expects to complete its report by the end of the year and has been contacted for comment.
Main image: A heroin user. Picture by: Alamy.com