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Home > 218. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to curtail or ban the opening of head shops here;[6077/10]

[Oireachtas] 218. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to curtail or ban the opening of head shops here;[6077/10]. (09 Feb 2010)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/02/09/00079...


National Drugs Strategy.

212.  Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [6769/10]

218.  Deputy Willie Penrose  asked the Minister for Health and Children
  the steps she will take to curtail or ban the opening of head shops here; if her attention has been drawn to the strong community campaign to have such a ban put in place; the legislative proposals she has in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6077/10]

233.  Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children,  further to Parliamentary Question No. 123 of 21 January 2010, when, in view of the increased urgency and concern, the secondary legislation under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 in relation to control of substances currently being sold in head shops will be before Dáil Éireann. [6236/10]

235.  Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh  asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding discussions in respect of the banning of substances sold in head shops. [5540/10]

283.  Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan  asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeframe for the secondary legislation under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 to deal with substances being sold in head shops. [6855/10]

Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney):  
  I propose to take Questions Nos. 212, 218, 233, 235 and 283 together.

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and its associated regulations control the import, export, production, supply and possession of a range of named narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances listed in the Schedules to the Act. Substances are scheduled under the Act in accordance with Ireland’s obligations under international conventions and/or where there is evidence that the substances are causing significant harm to public health in Ireland. The list of scheduled substances is kept under ongoing review. For example, in 2006 psychotropic (‘magic’) mushrooms were banned and their possession and sale is now illegal. On 31 March 2009, BZP was similarly subjected to legislative control measures and criminal sanctions.

In the light of the health risks associated with some of the products being sold in so-called ’head shops’, I intend to make regulations before the end of June which will introduce controls, similar to those introduced recently in the UK, on a range of substances which are currently on sale in head shops. These regulations will make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions. Some of the substances in question have legitimate uses - for example, in the production of plastics and industrial solvents. It will be necessary to assess the level of use of these substances by industry in Ireland and the implications for industry of placing these substances under the ambit of Misuse of Drugs legislation. In accordance with EU law, it may also be necessary to notify the Commission of the proposed regulations in case they impact on legitimate industrial activities and this imposes a 3 month stand still period on implementation of the regulations.

Minister of State John Curran, who has responsibility for co-ordinating the National Drugs Strategy, has identified head shops as an area of concern, and is currently considering the options available to more effectively control the activities of head shops. A Research Advisory Group (RAG) has been established to identify possible options for the regulation of head shops. The RAG held its first meeting on 13 January 2010. It has representatives from the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, the Departments of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Health and Children, the Health Research Board, Revenue Custom’s Service, the Forensic State Laboratory and other relevant stakeholders. The RAG will report incrementally until its work is complete.

Vol. 701 No. 3
Written Answers
Tuesday, 9 February 2010

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