By Mary Regan
THE head of the country’s biggest drug centre is calling for the decriminalisation of the use of all drugs - including heroin.
The director of the Merchant’s Quay Project, Tony Geoghegan, said that labelling addicts as criminals reduces their chances of rehabilitation and introduces them to crime circles.
He said he did not want to see drugs legalised, but believed their misuse should no longer be dealt with under the criminal justice system. He said it should be treated as a health and social problem instead.
Mr Geoghegan believes laws governing the use of all drugs here should be based on the British model of the decriminalisation of cannabis, which makes possession of the drug legal, but not production or supply.
Mr Geoghegan, who helps hundreds of heroin users in the capital, said: “I think resources used for prosecuting cannabis users could be more effectively targeted.”
Mr Geoghegan believes imprisoning drug users leads to a vicious circle.
“Sending people to prison for12 months does not address the problem of why they were using drugs in the first place,” he said.