Skip Page Header

Home > 8. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice; Equality and Law Reform the steps that are being taken in advance of the ban on mephedrone and various other substances. [19654/10]

[Oireachtas] 8. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice; Equality and Law Reform the steps that are being taken in advance of the ban on mephedrone and various other substances. [19654/10]. (13 May 2010)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/05/13/00019...


Controlled drugs sales

  1. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice; Equality and Law Reform the steps that are being taken in advance of the ban on mephedrone and various other substances coming into effect including whether head shop owners and other distributors are being asked to hand over the substance prior to the ban taking effect.

 

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Head shops have been exploiting the availability of potentially dangerous products and undermining the existing legal framework by the sale of substances which are not regulated but have the same effects as controlled drugs such as cannabis or cocaine. As part of a multi-pronged approach targeting the activities of head shops, the Government made two important decisions earlier this week.

 

The primary vehicles for regulating psychoactive substances are the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 and 1984. Accordingly, the Government made an order declaring certain substances, including mephedrone, to be controlled drugs for the purposes of the 1977 Act. The Minister for Health and Children has made the necessary statutory instruments to control these substances, which include the mainstream of psychoactive substances being sold in head shops. The instruments make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions and they can be dealt with using all the powers available under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

 

However our experience with head shops has shown that new psychoactive substances can appear with little notice. These can be exploited by suppliers who make them available without regard to the well-being of individuals or society at large before they are subject to regulation. I believe that the public safety issues are too serious to allow such a situation to arise again.

 

Accordingly, the Government has approved my proposals for a general criminal justice response to deal with the supply of new psychoactive substances as they emerge, which will operate in addition to the Misuse of Drugs acts controls. The Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill, which the Government has approved for drafting as a matter of priority, will bring the full force of the criminal justice system to bear down on the activities of head shops or any other supplier engaged in the sale of unregulated psychoactive substances.

 

Under the proposed Bill, I am providing that the sale or supply of unregulated psychoactive substances for human consumption will be a criminal offence. In addition, I intend to give appropriate powers to the Garda and to the courts to intervene quickly in a non-criminal procedure to prevent the sale of such products by way of appropriate prohibition orders. The Bill will also contain full search and seizure powers for the Garda Síochána and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

 

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: I welcome the recent announcement on the banning of certain products. I also welcome the Minister’s announcement that he will present to the House legislation on psychoactive substances.

Will the Minister agree that the failure to respond for such a long time to the threat posed by products being sold in head shops allowed demand to be created, and allowed the emergence of a far wider customer base than simply those people who would normally be attracted to that type of product? Does he agree that that has resulted in the development of drug dependencies by those who might otherwise not have engaged with that type of substance misuse?

 

What steps were taken in advance of the ban, which came into effect this week, to prevent the likes of mephedrone and snow going directly on to the black market? In England and Wales, local government officials were contacting head shops to seek their stocks of substances well in advance of the ban taking effect. Was that the case in Ireland? Has the Garda, since the ban came into effect, ensured that the products are not on sale? Has it raided warehouses where mephedrone has been stockpiled, for instance? To my knowledge, mephedrone is transferred by head shop owners to Ireland.

Vol. 709 No. 1 Other Questions - Controlled Drug Sales Thursday, 13 May 2010

Repository Staff Only: item control page