Consultative Referendum: UCDSU’s future drug policy

UCDSU are running a Consultative vote alongside their Executive Elections and Referenda this election cycle, to gauge student response to current and future drug policy

As it stands, UCDSU has a mandate to promote harm reduction, with work in tandem with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSPD), as well as a recently passed mandate to lobby the upcoming citizens assembly for full legalisation of illicit drugs. 

However, due to the narrow margin this mandate was carried by, as well as concern from council members that this vote should not have been put to council without first putting it to the student body, UCDSU are now putting a multiple choice query to the student body to gauge the wider response to the issue.

Prior to February’s council meeting where the new mandate was passed, the SU had been mandated to lobby for the legalisation of marajuana, and the decriminalisation of all other illicit drugs for personal use. The coming Consultative vote will not have an immediate effect on the current pro-legalisation mandate, nor will it reinstate the prior decriminalisation stance, regardless of the vote's outcome, however it may lead to revisitation of the mandate in council before the academic years end.

The ballot in question is a series of scaled responses to the current criminalisation of illicit drug use and sale in Ireland, with four options of varying levels. Your ballot will ask you “UCDSU should advocate the policy of the “X” in Ireland”, with a list of options to fill in for X.

These options are as follows:

A) “Legalisation of all drugs”

B) “Decriminalisation of all drugs and the legalisation of cannabis” 

C) “Decriminalisation of all drugs” 

D) “Criminalisation of all drugs” 

E) None of the above

Legalisation of All Drugs

This is the current SU stance, having been voted into place on February 27th, is to lobby the upcoming Citizens Assembly on drug use for full legalisation of all illicit drugs. This stance has been taken, by a margin of 31 votes to 28, with the hope that legalisation destigmatising drug use, making it potentially easier for addicts to seek aid, as well as full legislation allowing for taxation on currently illegal drugs, with a view towards that state income being ring fenced for the funding of addiction services. This would also mean that currently illicit drugs would then have standardised doses, and would reduce risk of spiking or of drugs being cut with other, potentially harmful, materials without the user knowing, and so feeds into the long standing SU stance of promoting harm reduction.

Decriminalisation of all drugs and the legalisation of cannabis

This was the SU stance prior to the SU council meeting which took place on February 27th. This stance would call for decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use (ie, a small amount of ecstasy for one's own use, but not an amount large enough to be potentially for resale, would not lead to an arrest, charge, or confiscation). As the sale of illicit drugs, barring cannabis, would remain illegal, no taxation or dosage management would be available under this option. 

The stance also called for a full legalisation of cannabis, meaning that possession, usage, and sale of cannabis would be fully legal, under similar taxation and licensing to that of alcohol or cigarettes.

Decriminalisation of all drugs

This would mean that it would not be a crime to possess or use a small amount of an illicit drug, so long as it was not intended for sale or resale. This option does not have a special provision for cannabis, and has no provision for safe sale, or dosage monitoring.

Criminalisation of all drugs

This stance is similar to our current national legal stance on illicit drugs, but as the ballot does not provide a definition of drugs as distinct from any substance that provides a “high”, this option could be argued to include drugs that are not at present illegal, such as alcohol or alkyl nitrites (poppers).

None of the above

This option is what is says on the tin: this is a nuance issue, and so personal stances may sit outside the four options available above. If you intend to vote for this option, consider reaching out to an SU representative to inform them of the stance you feel best represents your beliefs on the matter.