Drug use and possession

Drug use, as such, is not a specific crime except for certain activities relating to prepared opium, which is opium specifically prepared for smoking. In fact only the use of prepared opium, the frequenting of premises used for the use of prepared opium and the possession of utensils used for smoking prepared opium are prohibited.

Possession of any controlled drug, without due authorisation, is an offence. The legislation makes a distinction between possession for personal use and possession for sale or supply. Penalties for possession depend on the type of the substance (cannabis or other drugs) and on the penal proceedings i.e. whether a summary conviction or a conviction on indictment. Penalties for unlawful possession for the purpose of sale or supply range from imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or a fine on summary conviction, or up to imprisonment for life and or/an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.

Possession of cannabis and cannabis resin is considered in a different way to other drugs. Possession of cannabis or cannabis resin for personal use is punishable by a fine on first or second conviction. From a third offence onwards, possession for personal use of cannabis or cannabis resin incurs a fine and/or a term of imprisonment up to 1 year, on summary conviction and imprisonment for up to 3 years and/or a fine on conviction on indictment. Possession in any other case incurs a penalty of imprisonment for up to 1 year and/or a fine on summary conviction and up to 7 years imprisonment on conviction on indictment.

Trafficking and drug related crime

As regards drug trafficking, the law establishes different penalties according to the type of offender, the type of drugs and the quantity. Possession for sale or supply attracts penalties up to life imprisonment.

A person found in possession of drugs, with a value of €12,700 or more, for the purpose of sale or supply, may be imprisoned for up to life and be subject to an unlimited fine and there is a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. However, the mandaory minimum sentence shall not apply where the court is satisfied that there are exceptional and specific circumstances which would make it unjust in all the circumstances to impose the minimum ten year sentence. In addition, where it is found that addiction was a substantial factor leading to the commission of the offence, the sentence may be reviewed after half of the mandatory period, at which time the court may suspend the remainder of the sentence on any condition it sees fit.


Unauthorised production, supply, importation, exportation and possession of the precursors substances is prohibited. Infringements can lead to a fine of €1,270 or imprisonment for a period of up to one year or both.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, penalties where a case is taken on indictment can be a fine without limitation at the discretion of the court, or imprisonment not exceeding 7 years, or both.

Alcohol and tobacco

It is illegal to sell both alcohol and tobacco products to anyone under 18 years. It is against the law to drink alcohol in public places as it is to smoke in all buildings which are workplaces (public buildings, shops, offices, restaurants, bars etc.).

Substitution treatment

Treatment is provided through a network of statutory and non-statutory agencies. Medication-assisted treatment includes opiate detoxification and substitution therapies, alcohol and benzodiazepine detoxification, and psychiatric treatment. Medication-free therapy uses models such as therapeutic communities and the Minnesota Model.