Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Written Answers. - Drugs Offences.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 280 Next Page Last Page

 434. Cecilia Keaveney Information on Cecilia Keaveney Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  his views on the adequacy of the penalties which exist for possession of drugs in small quantities; and if he will make a statement on the expansion of the drug task force into more rural areas with an associated level of manpower, in view of the presence of illegal drugs in many parts of the country outside of the recognised centres. [23393/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Penalties under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, range from the imposition of monetary fines to life imprisonment depending on the particular offence and the circumstances of the case. I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, that possession of any controlled drug, without due authorisation, is an offence under section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977. Penalties for unlawful possession for the purpose of sale or supply range from imprisonment for up to one year and-or a fine on summary conviction, or up to imprisonment for life and/or an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

Possession of cannabis or cannabis resin for personal use is punishable by a fine on first or second conviction. From a third offence onwards, possession for personal use of cannabis or cannabis resin incurs a fine and-or a term of imprisonment up to one year, on summary conviction [310] and imprisonment for up to three years and-or a fine on conviction on indictment. Possession in any other case incurs a penalty of imprisonment for up to one year and-or a fine on summary conviction and up to seven years imprisonment on conviction on indictment. I am satisfied that the existing penalties are adequate and appropriate to deal with possession of drugs in small quantities. However, although there are no plans for legislative change, the operation of the law in these areas will continue to be kept under review by my Department.

One of the key recommendations of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, which was launched in May 2001, is that regional drugs task forces – RDTFs – be established throughout the country to develop appropriate policies for their regions. The RDTFs will have a key role to play in the whole area of prevention and will also be responsible for identifying and addressing any gaps in service provision to tackle the drug problem in their areas. In terms of their establishment, I understand that nominations have been sought from the various sectors to be represented on the RDTFs. I am informed by the Garda authorities that they have submitted nominees for each of the RDTFs to the national drugs strategy team.

In addition, the national drugs strategy team has prepared guidelines for the operation of the RDTFs which have been circulated to the various sectors and agencies. It is expected that the work of the RDTFs will get under way early next year. I am also informed by the Garda authorities that they have established dedicated drug units in areas outside the boundaries of the current local drugs task forces and that the allocation of Garda resources is constantly monitored to ensure that it reflects policing priorities regarding illegal drug distribution.

Question No. 435 answered with Question No. 424.


Last Updated: 14/03/2015 05:38:07 First Page Previous Page Page of 280 Next Page Last Page