One doctor says decriminalisation around drugs is a 'basic starter' to keep people out of the criminal justice system.
Dr Garrett McGovern was speaking as minimum unit pricing of alcohol in Scotland has driven some people to turn to cheaper street drugs, according to the Scottish Drugs Forum.
Ireland introduced minimum unit pricing earlier this year.
Dr McGovern is medical director at the Priority Medical Clinic in Dundrum.
He told Newstalk Breakfast things are moving too slowly here.
"I'm on record a long time ago as thinking we need to kind of change our drug laws.
"I think one of the things that we should enact - we were in the Oireachtas a couple of weeks ago trying to push this forward - was decriminalisation.
"[This] is really diverting people away from the criminal justice system and into a health-led approach.
"I think that is a fairly basic starter for this... I think the 1977 Drugs Act needs overhauling, but we've made no inroads into this whatsoever.
"We're looking at the first medically-supervised injecting room - the legislation was passed five and a half years ago, it's still not open.
"So there's a lot of things we're talking about, they just haven't happened".
However he believes the Scottish situation is "complicated".
"I think the big problem in Scotland is... minimum unit pricing has pushed people away from basic living in terms of heating and eating food - which is really, really worrying.
"I think here they're looking at a particular relationship between minimum unit pricing and drug-related deaths.
"It has three and a half times the rate of drug-related deaths in Scotland as it does in the rest of the UK.
"I think the big driver for that is probably poverty and social inequality.
"This is a new angle on this, and I think probably we need a little bit more evidence to tease it out to see are people who would otherwise be drinking moving over to using drugs?"
And Dr McGovern believes people are going to drugs - such as cannabis and cocaine - as they are 'cheaper and more plentiful' than alcohol.
"The drug landscape is far different than it was a decade or two ago, and that's causing an awful lot of problem[s] on the ground.
"One of the other drugs that causing real problems in socially deprived areas is crack cocaine.
"It's decimating communities, I'm not exaggerating when I say that: decimating communities", he adds.