Last year Gardaí recorded more than 12,000 incidents of possession of drugs for personal use and a further 4,000 ‘sale or supply’ offences.
Many people caught in possession of illegal substances consider themselves ‘recreational’ drug users – ‘a few lines in the toilets on a night out’ or ‘the odd pill, but only at music festivals’. It can come as a shock to them, then, when this ‘recreational’ use lands them in trouble with the law.
The government is considering decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, but currently it is a criminal offence to possess even a small amount of an illicit substance.
One garda explained to TheJournal.ie that young people at music festivals or clubs get a rude awakening when they are caught doing something that has become a normal part of their social lives.
“The most they would be found with would be for personal use – maybe one or two [ecstasy] tablets or one small bag of coke. They’d be brought back for a search, with consent, and if nothing more is found they would be released, with a summons to follow once the drugs are analysed.”
Possession of any controlled substance is an offence and penalty for personal use is usually a fine, particularly if the substance is cannabis and it is a first or second offence.
Most offenders in these circumstances can avoid a criminal record, but this recreational use can have more serious consequences for a person if they stray into ‘sale or supply’.
Source: Michelle Hennessy, The Journal.ie, 11/09/18