The law in Ireland
Misuse of Drugs Act 1977
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 is the main law regulating controlled drugs in Ireland. It controls the cultivation, licensing, possession, administration, supply, record-keeping, prescription-writing, destruction and safe custody of scheduled substances. It also establishes the offences and penalties.
Drug use in itself is not generally a crime under Irish law but possession of a controlled drug, without due authorisation, is an offence under Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. The legislation makes a distinction between possession for personal use and possession for sale or supply. With regard to offences for possession for personal use, the legislation imposes more lenient sentences for cannabis-related offences than for other substances.
- Possession of cannabis or cannabis resin for personal use is punishable by a fine on first and second conviction. A third and all subsequent offences incur a fine and/or a term of imprisonment for up to one year on summary conviction (i.e. of a minor offence charged by way of a summons and heard in a lower (District) court), or alternatively, a fine and/or imprisonment for up to three years for conviction on indictment (i.e. a more serious offence for which a formal charge is brought and the case is referred to the criminal courts, where the defendant may opt for a jury trial).
- Possession of all other controlled substances incurs a penalty of a fine and/or imprisonment for up to one year on summary conviction, and imprisonment for up to seven years for conviction on indictment.
- Possession for the purpose of sale or supply incurs penalties ranging from imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine on summary conviction, or up to imprisonment for life and or/an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.