The Misuse of Drugs (Supervised Injecting Facilities) Bill 2017, which would enable the Minister of Health to issue a licence, with conditions, to operate a supervised injecting facility, has passed the Second Stage in the Dail and is now at Committee Stage.
The Department described a supervised injecting facility as “a controlled environment where drug users may self-administer, by injection, drugs they have brought with them.
“Such facilities will provide access to clean, sterile injecting equipment and have trained staff on hand to provide emergency care in the event of an overdose, as well as advice on treatment and rehabilitation. They will also help alleviate the problems associated with injecting on the street, including drug-related litter,“ said he Department spokesperson.
The provisions of the Bill would also:
- Exempt authorised users from the offence of possession when in the facility, and with the permission of the licence holder;
- It would provide an exemption for licensed providers whereby it is currently an offence to permit the preparation or possession of a controlled substance in premises;
- It would enable the Minister to consult with the HSE, An Garda Síochána, or others on matters relating to a supervised injecting facility, and enable the Minister to make regulations relating to the operation of such facilities.
Possession of controlled drugs will continue to be an offence outside a supervised injecting facility. Possession for sale or supply will remain an offence both inside and outside a supervised injecting facility.
The Bill does not establish a location for a supervised injecting facility, but a pilot facility is planned for Dublin city centre. The HSE has established a working group to gather data, consider possible options
The first drug consumption room opened in Switzerland in 1986. In October 2016 the first supervised injecting facility in France was opened in a suburb of Paris.
There are now almost 90 drug consumption rooms operating around the world. The Department said that evidence from these sites demonstrated a reduction in fatal overdoses and transmission of blood borne diseases, a decrease in the incidence of public injecting, significant reductions in drug related litter and no increase in the use of drugs or of drug-related crime.