A Tuesday morning court ruling has opened doors for legal drug possession in Ireland—but for a limited time only. Ireland’s Court of Appeals ruled that a portion of the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1977 was unconstitutional.
The unconstitutionality stems not from the language of the law, but how the law was enacted. Four years ago, Ireland’s government ministers acted unilaterally to add more than 100 substances to the 1977 law which circumvented the legal process. The unilateral move was declared unconstitutional by the Court and that part of the law struck down.
Ireland’s parliament has already begun work to enact an emergency bill, drafted by Ireland’s Department of health, which is aimed at closing the gap in the law. The law should pass through both houses of Ireland’s parliament, go to the president and is expected to be in full effect by Thursday. Once the laws have been reestablished, all of the drugs in question would be made illegal once again.
In the meantime, all 100 drugs listed are legal and possession of them is no longer a crime, although all of the other activities around the drug, including buying and selling, are still a crime. It should be noted as well, that older drugs, such as cannabis and heroine are not affected by the temporary legalization and are still crimes.
The law has more impacts in Ireland than simply allowing a 24 hour free for all on the drugs in question. Since the portion of the law that makes possession of these drugs illegal has been declared unconstitutional, any convictions that were carried out under that portion of the law will also be subjected to scrutiny. Those convicted under multiple sections of the act will likely see little change in their convictions, but those convicted only under the now unconstitutional section may see their cases reevaluated.
In the meantime, the government is pleading with their citizens to think of their health, when deciding whether or not to take advantage of the temporary loophole.