An allocation of €200,000 has been provided for the phased implementation of the new State health diversion system for possession of illegal drugs.
Last August, the Government announced a landmark change in the legal approach to those caught in possession of drugs for personal use.
Under the system, people who are caught, for the first time, by gardaí in possession of drugs for personal use will be referred to a health intervention.
Those who are caught a second time will be subject to garda discretion, who may divert them again to the health services.
For a third, or subsequent offence, the person will be arrested, as currently, and processed through the criminal justice system and possibly receive a conviction.
The new system, set to be in place by autumn 2020, is based on the report of a State working group which ruled out decriminalisation of drug possession.
Asked about spending on the National Drugs Strategy under Budget 2020, the Department of Health said €200,000 had been provided for the Health Diversion Programme. It said the “phased implementation” will begin in Q3 (July-September) 2020.
“The programme will provide a health screening and brief intervention known as SAOR to people who are referred to the health services by An Garda Síochána,” the department said in a statement.
It said the money will enable the establishment of a SAOR screening programme in each of the nine HSE community healthcare organisations.
Following another recommendation by the State working group, the department said €100,000 was being allocated for an awareness campaign “about the dangers of drug use, to target high-risk groups, such as young people and festival goers”.
Some €185,000 is being provided to expand addiction services in maternity hospitals for pregnant and post-natal women abusing substances, and their babies. The funding includes additional drug and alcohol liaison midwives.
Last March, drugs strategy minister Catherine Byrne announced €1m in additional funding to support the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.