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Home > 166. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he is taking to have head shops closed permanently. [14054/10]

[Oireachtas] 166. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he is taking to have head shops closed permanently. [14054/10]. (31 Mar 2010)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/03/31/00058...


National drugs strategy

166. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps he is taking to have head shops closed permanently in view of the significant and increasing levels of concerns being expressed by communities across the country about their ongoing operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
 
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey):  I can assure the Deputy that I share the concerns to which he refers regarding the activities of head shops and the new psychoactive substances, represented as “legal highs”, which are being sold in these outlets. Indeed, my colleague, Mr John Curran, T.D., while Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, voiced similar concerns on many occasions and held a number of meetings with the Ministers for Health and Children, Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Education and Science. He also met with the Garda Commissioner and with senior officials of various Departments and Offices. Head shops and the sale of “legal highs” were discussed at many of these meetings and various approaches to addressing the activities of these outlets were considered.
 
A primary approach to the head shops issue is to ensure that substances that pose dangers to the public are not available for sale. In this context, the Department of Health and Children, through the Misuse of Drugs Act, is currently finalising regulations to introduce controls on a range of substances. These regulations will make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions. In preparing the required regulations, that Department are consulting with the relevant authorities to ensure that any legitimate uses of the substances involved are not impinged upon. Meanwhile the Government has approved the commencement of a required notification process to the EU and it is envisaged that the regulations controlling the various substances will come into effect at the conclusion of the three month process involved. It is envisaged that these controls will impact very significantly on the operation of head shops.
 
Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Drugs has been asked to carry out some research in this area. In addition, the activities of head shops are being closely monitored on an ongoing basis by An Garda Síochána and Revenue’s Customs Service with a view to ensuring that no substances that are currently illegal are being sold. My Department has been in contact with the Attorney General about a range of possible approaches to the matter and a number of issues arising in that context are being considered at senior level within an interdepartmental framework. I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to work with my Ministerial colleagues in vigorously pursuing all viable approaches to counter the potential threats posed by head shops and “legal highs”.
 
Vol. 706 No. 1  
Written Answers – National Drug Strategy
Wednesday, 31 March 2010

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