The Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality is expected to give a recommendation to Justice Minster Frances Fitzgerald on the issue on decriminalising drugs, such as marijuana, in the next few weeks.

If the committee recommends decriminalising possession of drugs, it would pave the way for the safe and legal use of marijuana in much the same way as Portugal has done since 2000.

Portugal opted to abolish all criminal penalties relating to the possession of drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. A report showed that after five years of decriminalising drugs, use had dropped significantly amongst teenagers and now boasts the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 years of age at 10%.

There's been growing calls to legalise marijuana in Ireland, following on from examples in the US and Portugal, with many believing that marijuana is no more harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

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