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[Office for the Minister for Drugs] , Curran, John Minister Curran Responding to Headshops Threat. (26 Jan 2010)

Minister Curran Responding to Headshops Threat

John Curran T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, today told a conference on Headshops and "legal highs" that he is co-ordinating a Government response across various Departments to tackle the problems associated with the proliferation of headshops. The conference was organised by Regional Drugs Task Forces from across the country and was held in Mullingar.

"I have voiced my concerns in regard to the activities of headshops, and substances represented as "legal highs", on numerous occasions since my appointment as Minister" he said.

Minister Curran continued “My concerns in relation to substances that are represented as being "legal highs" or "herbal highs" centre on the potential health hazards arising from the use of these products and the possibility that their use may act as a gateway to the use of illicit drugs. Also, in the light of the banning of a number of substances (and groups of substances) in the UK in December, I am concerned about the possibility of Ireland becoming a "dumping ground" for some of these products.”

"The specific identification of the issue of the proliferation of headshops and the availability of "legal highs" in the National Drugs Strategy arose because of these concerns" said the Minister.

"As provided for under the National Drugs Strategy, I held a number of meetings in late 2009 with the Ministers for Health & Children, Justice, Equality & Law Reform and Education & Science" said Minister Curran. "I have also met with the Garda Commissioner and with senior officials of various Departments and Offices. The issues of Headshops and the sale of "legal highs" were among the issues discussed at these meetings and various approaches to addressing the activities of Headshops have been suggested".

"In line with the co-ordinated approach being taken, I have asked Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney T.D., who has responsibility for the importation, exportation, production, supply and possession of a range of named narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, to ensure that every effort is made to expedite the response to this issue through the early control of substances under that Act and I hope that steps can be taken to progress this as soon as possible". I have also raised issues around insurance and consumer protection with the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, as well as planning issues with the Departments of Environment, Heritage & Local Government".

"I welcome the initiative taken by Regional Drugs Task Forces in organising today’s conference, no doubt reflecting the current degree of concern about the issue nationally and indeed across Europe. Such initiatives are useful so that real current problems can be analysed and workable solutions identified." said Minister Curran, who acknowledged the work done in this regard by Antoinette Kinsella, Co-ordinator of the Midlands Regional Drugs Task Force and all the members and staff of that Drugs Task Force.

"Headshops and "legal highs are among the issues in the drugs area that are causing me most concern. I can assure you that I am fully committed to pursuing appropriate responses to counter the potential threats involved" concluded the Minister.

Issued by the Press & Information Office at the Dept. of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs
Eisithe ag Oifig Preasa & Eolais na Roinne Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta.
Tel/Teil: 01 647 3130 Fax/Facs: 01 667 0826
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Note to Editor

Actions 14 and 15 of that Strategy cover (i) monitoring the activities of headshops, and all businesses involved in the sale of psychoactive substances, (ii) ensuring that steps are taken to reform legislation in this respect where it is deemed to be appropriate and (iii) keeping drugs-related legislation under continuous review, with particular focus on new synthetic substances, new or changed uses of psychoactive substances, and against the background of EU and broader international experience and best practice.

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