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The Adult Caution and Possession of Cannabis

Adult Cautioning Scheme Expanded to Include Simple Possession of Cannabis 

From December 2020, there was a change to drug policy in Ireland. Possession of cannabis for personal use was added to the Adult Cautioning Scheme. It is the first time a drug offence has been included in the scheme since it came into operation some 15 years ago.

What is the Adult Cautioning Scheme? 

The Adult Cautioning Scheme was introduced in 2006. In simple terms, it is when a warning is issued by the Gardai for minor offences. The scheme is an alternative to a District Court prosecution. The benefits to the individual are obvious, it means no criminal conviction. Adult cautions are not disclosed in Garda vetting reports or police certificates. These disclosures can have a detrimental effect on a young person's future. Employment opportunities, visa applications, access to housing are all damaged.

The following category of offences are included in the scheme:

· Public Order Offences

· Minor Theft Offences

· Minor Criminal Damage

· Minor Assaults

· Simple Cannabis Possession

Not everyone who commits one of the scheduled offences will receive a caution. There must be an acceptance of responsibility on behalf of the offender. The final decision still rests with the Superintendent of the local Garda Station. They have considerations to make before deciding to issue a caution. Has the individual received a caution before? A caution must be in the public interest. The views of any victim must also be considered. 

Changes Ahead In Drug Legislation

The Government launched a National Drugs Strategy in 2017. The strategy aims to pursue a health-led rather than a criminal justice approach to drug use. This recent addition to the Adult Cautioning Scheme is a result of this new approach. Further changes to drug policy are inevitable.

Here at Michael J Staines & Company, we are acutely aware of upcoming changes to drug legislation. After our successful Supreme Court challenge in 2019, on behalf of one of our clients, the Government was forced to change existing legislation. Prior to our case, Wayne Ellis v Minister for Justice and Equality, the law required the imposition of  mandatory minimum sentences for certain offenders. 

If you find yourself in need of advice in the area of drug possession, you should contact our office immediately. Our specialised solicitors are here to offer fully confidential and expert assistance