One of the country’s leading anti-drugs campaign groups has called for an “informed public and political debate” on alternatives to a criminal justice approach to drug addiction. This month the City Wide Drugs Crisis Campaign will launch a leaflet entitled “Decriminalisation; a new direction for drugs policy?” calling for informed debate on the response to the drugs crisis. The decision to call for a wideranging debate follows a meeting of the campaign in late October on the theme “Drugs – can we take anymore?” At this meeting, community activists, including SIPTU members, from across the country highlighted the extent of the current drugs crisis and called for the issue to be put back on the political agenda. City Wide chairperson, Anna Quigley, said: “All the evidence confirms that our communities are now coping with an increasingly complex and chaotic drug problem that includes a mix of legal drugs, illegal drugs and alcohol. Within this mix, there are different patterns of drug use in different areas and for different age groups but there is one common thread – the enduring link between disadvantage and serious community drug problems.” Community activists involved in the campaign said that their ability to address an ever more complex drugs issue was being reduced due to cuts in resources and services for communities. Severe budget cuts over recent yearshave resulted in a 37% reduction in the Drugs Initiatives Budget between 2008 and 2014. This level of cuts has also meant that actions previously agreed with Government, as part of the National Drugs Strategy, cannot be implemented. Quigley added: “Minister for Health, James Reilly, stated that drug misuse continues to be one of the most significant challenges facing our country and he went on to acknowledge that it is highly destructive and has devastating effects on individuals, families, communities and society in general. It is now urgent for the Government to put its money where its mouth is, and rebuild the partnership with local communities that is as crucial to tackling the drugs crisis now as it was in the 90s.”