Campaigners are calling for the legalisation of drugs as a matter of public health.
The Help not Harm campaign is calling for drugs like cannabis to be legalised and regulated to allow people to consume them in a safe manner.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Graham De Barra, director of the campaign said, “decriminalisation is a form of public health.”
“The heart of this argument is to put public health first rather than criminalising our youth,” he said.
“I think the experience over the last six months with COVID has certainly allowed us to think more about wellbeing and health rather than prioritising criminalising our young people who are using our drugs.
“Decriminalising is a form a public health and regulation is about safely regulating substances that people might consume at places like festivals and live events.”
Earlier @BreakfastNT spoke to @GramsdB Director of 'Help not Harm' who believes a future Citizens Assembly on drugs should examine safely regulating drugs (like cannabis) including potential taxation of them to help pay for public services.
Should we legalize cannabis?
— Newstalk Breakfast (@BreakfastNT) August 13, 2020
He said the concept is “nothing new” with a number of countries all over the world moving toward some form of legalisation in recent years.
“That is allowing an individual to purchase a product that has a quality-assured certification,” he said. “It has been analysed and tested for impurities – the same as with alcohol or food – and that person can consume it as an adult and that is a free choice that a person can make.
“That is not to say there are not restrictions around how to use it or where to use it.”
Mr De Barra said legalisation is about respecting people’s individual freedoms and privacy – rights they are entitled to European Charter for Human Rights.
“People will be able to consume these drugs in safer manner,” he said. “Because people are already consuming these drugs, it’s just that they are consuming them in a more anti-social way because we are driving it into the underworld.
“That means we are driving it into the dark corners of our cities and in our fields in our rural settings.
“People are afraid and it is very much like our LGBTQI campaigns of a few years ago. It is very much coming out of our youth who are willing to stand up and say they may consume cannabis and they don’t want to be stigmatised any longer.”
He said the current criminalisation of certain drugs is “very comparable to the criminalisation of sexuality a number of years ago.”
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