James Leonard now has a Masters in Criminology from UCC and is embarking on a PhD in September.
He appeared last year on The Tommy Tiernan Show to share his story.
In a research paper published in recent days in the International Journal of Drug Policy, he surveyed eight people who had used drugs on a problematic level, as well as six people who work with drug users.
The study states: “All people who used drugs problematically had at least one year of abstinence and had been criminalised because of their drug use, all but one had served at least one custodial sentence.
“Participants were asked their opinions on safe injecting facilities, heroin-assisted treatment, decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, de-penalisation of cannabis, and the relationships between economic deprivation and problematic drug use.”
Those surveyed reported that criminalisation and penalties do nothing to deter people from consuming drugs. The report elaborated: “Respondents stressed that, in Cork City, problematic drug use is closely linked with economic deprivation and social exclusion. There was a near consensus that criminalisation and penalisation do not deter consumption, and produce unintended consequences.”
Source: EchoLIVE.ie, 09th August 2020