Irish government to decriminalise personal quantities of many drugs

[Read the post]


What about LSD? It even has medical uses - numerous studies have shown it very valuable in therapy. (As in, therapy that couldn’t be shown to have any result without LSD had clear positive results with.)


great, and unexpected news. this policy has had a great impact in portugal, hopefully more countries will quickly follow suit.


In regards to changing their abortion laws. It’s not neccisarily all that simple. Ireland doesn’t have a formal separation of church and state, or anything similar. So while in my experience there seems to be plenty of popular support for things like liberalizing abortion laws, just like their was with legalizing gay marriage. It tend to get bogged down in debate over the way more complex issue of carving religion out of government entirely. Something that takes a hell of a lot more popular support and a lot more time. That said there’s probably a lot that could be done without changing the church state thing.

1 Like

Ireland does have a formal separation of church and state. While there is some theistic wording in the constitution, it doesn’t grant any special consideration to any specific religion (any more, there was a constitutional referendum in the 70s that removed such a thing in relation to the catholic church).

Not that there aren’t a few silly laws that need to be struck down (re blasphemy for example - though never actually used), and proper abortion reform is long overdue (the recent effort was pretty half-arsed), and the church still has far too much influence on education.

Certain TDs may have strong religious belief (and are generally behind the times on many other issues), and that is surely an impediment to such reforms, but there is no real structural democratic reforms required with respect to church/state interaction.

1 Like

think of the children !!

As I understand it Ireland doesn’t have a formal, constitutional or legal separation between church and state. Least ways not the way those things typically work. In the US we have a constitution that explicitly divorces the two and a couple hundred years of legal precedent establishing exactly how that works (as much as our right wing crazies like to deny and ignore it). But what Ireland also doesn’t have, and has never had, is a formal or legally recognized state religion. There’s a major difference between the two. In the past Catholicism got “special recognition” that allowed the Catholic Church to act almost like a state religion by default. Sort of, in certain ways. That’s what was revoked in the 1970’s. The specific recognition of a single religion apart from others. But there still isn’t anything baring religious consideration or determination of laws or the direct involvement or religion in state affairs. For example as far as I’m aware Irish public schools are still often directly tied to the church.

So as it was explained to me Ireland could legalize abortion tomorrow by the same sort of national vote that legalized gay marriage (or normal legislative action). But practically speaking abortion would still be completely inaccessible, and in more than a handful of specific situations it might actually remain illegal. Because there’s a whole host of extent laws and practical precedents that give deference to religion, religious bodies, or religious individuals over state, medical or other secular bodies in determining what’s offered, when and how, what’s necessary medically, whats prioritized in terms of infrastructure and dozens of other things.

So when you start to talk about reforming abortion laws in Ireland you start talking about unraveling bits and pieces off all that, to make it actually work. Which tends to look an awful lot like formally secularizing the apparatus of state (because it is), which leads inexorably to debate about whether Ireland has a separation of church and state (they don’t really), if they can institute one, and how you would if you did. At which point things tend to either go nowhere or go more slowly than anyone would like. Frankly if there already was a separation, and the government was formally secular you wouldn’t have active (and long standing) political movements demanding the institution of one and a secularization of the constitution. As it stands while no particular religion is technically a part of the government or explicitly built into its structure, there isn’t really a separation. So you get a situation where a lot of state functions and laws are reliant on or defer to religion even if they don’t specify an actual religious body or organization. Because of history and population dynamics that basically means it all just defaults to the Catholic church.

Then again I am looking at all of this from the outside.

1 Like

While this is definitely good news, I would caution the use of the term “evidence based” to describe the decriminalisation of drugs.

For an intervention to be evidence based, it needs to have evidence supporting it’s efficacy. The identification of what constitutes the “intervention” is vitally important here. In the situation where a country goes from criminalizing possession to de-criminalizing possession (but not production and distribution), one intervention is substituted for another. The first intervention involves using the police and “justice” system to pursue and harass drug users, dealers and producers. The second intervention involves using the police and “justice” system to pursue and harass drug dealers and producers.

While it is true that there is ample evidence that this substitution will produce better outcomes, it should not be called “evidence based” because the substituted intervention has no evidence base vis a vis doing nothing (legalization / liaise faire).

If you stop treating an influenza patient by bashing them over the head and start treating them with leeches their situation will improve. However, this change is not “evidence based” because there’s no evidence that leeches help the flu either. It’s just a less harmful intervention.

The best this change can be called is “less ridiculous”.

LSD is also pretty useful for certain types of migraines. Although I’ve never tried it. Too much of a wimp. I don’t like the prospect of trading blinding pain and ataxia for becoming functionally schizophrenic for a few hours.


That’s an interesting point of view… Would you care to call up some satanists and test it? They’re typically willing to take for themselves all the special privileges of religions while making both the catholics and protestants throw tantrums and cry. Which is just gravy, if you ask me.


I concur with your assessment of the constitutional situation in Ireland.

I have a minor disagreement with you on how abortion could be legalised (repealing the 8th amendment wouldn’t be quite enough but any law on the books which contradicted the will of the people via a constitutional amendment would be ultra vires the constitution and void) legalising abortion technically would still leave it largely unavailable due to the nature of the governance of hospitals in the Irish health system. As you say above about public schools they are still more or less under the control of church appointed boards. So the laws wouldn’t be a substantive problem as much as the dead hand of extremist Catholics on the tillers guiding hospitals. Unelected, unaccountable, undemocratic.

Congratulations on the sophistication of your grasp of the essential issues, it is genuinely rare to encounter inside or outside Ireland.

On a positive note from having contacted many TDs over the last while in relation to discrimination in access to and the provision of education the lack of civil governance is genuinely frustrating to politicians of all parties. We need to express this positively, have a positive campaign rather than “get the church out of politics” it has to be "allow all our citizens to be treated fairly ". I think there is a far shorter distance to travel than that from homosexual sex being illegal 20odd years ago to marriage equality in a journey allowing all our children equal access to school.

Women’s reproductive rights on the other hand. There will be really fucking scary money, and scary people lined up to dig their heels in, spout evil lies, run rings around the electorate and terrify people.

The 8th amendment of the constitution was an expert piece of political trolling which just keeps on giving.

1 Like

Somewhat ironic that the UK government is modelling its new (and widely ridiculed) psychoactive substances law on an Irish act from 2010.

So can we look forward to decriminalisation in five years time?

1 Like

While Canada has no clear separation of Church and State (witness ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestant’ school boards in Ontario and elsewhere), that has proven to be no impediment to completely decriminalizing abortion. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled abortions laws completely invalid and even the Harper government, despite its right-wing base, decided to not pursue the cause.

So what’s Ireland’s excuse, eh?

1 Like

How many hundreds of years was Canada completely (or near completely) ruled by religious authoritarians before that liberalization?

functionally schizophrenic? Clearly you never have tried it.
How about;
the prospect of trading blinding pain and ataxia for becoming aware of the hilarious and deeply interconnected state of everything in the cosmos.
And whilst LSD has been used for migraine therapy, it’s its cousin Psilocybin that has done most of the heavy lifting in this area.


That’s what I said.

I get that already from just dancing in a rave. I fear that it’d be more of an introspective journey and that I won’t like what I see. I’ve got some “psychonaut” friends who use LSD pretty much exclusively for that… Although from the literature DMT would probably work better for them.

Good point.


By that, what I meant was being unable to tell what exactly is actually real, and what is just happening because of the LSD. I’m not particularly interested in getting into arguments with people about how they look like a steam locomotive, or whether or not they’re the devil. I’ve had those kinds of hours long discussions with people on at the very least LSD. There might have been other stuff involved though, so I can’t say it was a pure experience for the people who partook…

That’s the one that criminalises all drugs unless the Home Secretary should deign to decriminalise them?

What the hell does that mean? If it passes, and I visit London, would I be arrested for going to the chemist and picking up some paracetamol? Paracetamol alters and elevates my mood when I have a sprained ankle, or a headache. Because it works.

1 Like

Well, LSD is not completely dissociative, so fortunately there’s not that weird state of being able to tell what’s real and what’s not. It is a lot more introspective than a lot of others, although DMT is not at all similar. For one, it’s extremely short, unless you take it in an oral preparation like Ayahuasca. For another, whilst it may be introspective, it’s definitly not funny like Acid.