Home > Dail Eireann debate. Priority question 36 - Proposed legislation [Head shops] [26181/10].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Priority question 36 - Proposed legislation [Head shops] [26181/10]. (22 Jun 2010)

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36. Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the adequacy of her response to the import, production, sale and supply of dangerous headshop products; her further views on the fact that persons continue to be put at risk as new legal drug substances, such as Whack, the cocaine substitute, Amplified, and other new drug products enter the market; if she will confirm that legislation to ban the sale and supply of such products will be introduced before the summer recess; and if she will make a statement on the matter. 

Deputy Mary Harney: I reject the suggestion the Government’s handling of the issue of so-called “legal highs” has been inadequate. In light of the health risks associated with these products, the Government made an order on 11 May 2010 declaring a large number of substances, commonly referred to as “legal highs”, to be controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, with immediate effect.
Approximately 200 individual substances were controlled by this legislation. The substances controlled include synthetic cannabis-type substances, contained in Spice products, BZP-related substances sold as party pills, mephedrone and similar substances sold as bath salts or plant food and GBL and 1,4BD, often referred to as liquid ecstasy.
It is now a criminal offence for a person to import, export, produce, supply or possess these legal high substances. Possession and supply are subject to serious criminal sanctions of up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine for unlawful possession and, on indictment, up to a maximum of life imprisonment for unlawful supply.
These regulations have had a significant impact on headshops, removing the majority of their products from the market, and, as a consequence, a large number of such shops have closed.
The Government has always acknowledged attempts would be made to circumvent these regulations. Since these substances were brought under control, other substances have been coming on to the market that are not subject to controls under the Misuse of Drugs Act. My Department is working closely with the Department of Justice and Law Reform, the Garda, the Customs Service, the Forensic Science Laboratory, the Irish Medicines Board and others to monitor closely the emergence of new psychoactive substances. I will not hesitate to seek Government approval to ban additional substances if any of them poses a risk to public health.
Initial analyses indicate the products Whack and Amplified contain new cocaine-type substances. As these substances have anaesthetic effects they fall within the scope of the medicinal products legislation. These products do not hold licences from the Irish Medicines Board or the European Medicines Agency. The Irish Medicines Board has been visiting head shops and removing these products from the market. The board has also been removing several other products from headshops which are known to contain medicinal products.
Last Friday, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform published the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010. The Bill will make it a criminal offence to sell or supply substances which may not be specifically controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts but which have psychoactive effects.           
Vol. 713 No. 1
Priority Questions - Proposed Legislation
22 June 2010

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