By  for The Guardian. Police officers in Ireland have backed a proposal from a government minister to make possession of heroin, cocaine or other opiates for personal use no longer an arrestable offence.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who is in charge of Ireland’s drug policy, said this month that the country should move towards decriminalising possession of small quantities of certain narcotics, including all class A opiates, as part of a “radical cultural shift”.

He said attitudes to drugs must move away from shaming users, focusing instead on helping them, and that there was a difference between decriminalisation and legalisation.

The Garda Representative Association, which represents 11,500 frontline officers, has welcomed the move to decriminalise personal possession, saying it would free up police resources.

“I think anything that can deal with the curse of drugs and some innovating thinking on this is to be welcomed,” the GRA’s general secretary, PJ Stone, said, adding that Ó Ríordáin’s proposal would be seen as a brave move.

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