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Home > 29. Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the opening hours of head shops. [8400/10]

[Oireachtas] 29. Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the opening hours of head shops. [8400/10]. (18 Feb 2010)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/02/18/00037...


Proposed Legislation.

 29. Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make a statement on the opening hours of head shops; if there is legislation regarding their opening hours; and if an age limit will be enforced on entry to such shops.
 
 38. Deputy Liz McManus  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs  if he will make a statement on the issue of head shops.
 
Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy John Curran):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 38 together.
 
I have voiced my concerns in regard to the activities of headshops and substances represented as “legal highs” sold in these outlets on numerous occasions since my appointment as Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy.
 
The problem of “legal highs” is not unique to Ireland and headshops are causing concern across Europe. A number of countries, including the UK, have taken action, each taking their own approach to the matter in line with their own laws and experiences. However, no EU Member State has come up with a comprehensive response thus far.
 
The issue of headshops and the substances they sell has been raised at a various fora and a number of avenues are being explored to ascertain what actions might be pursued to minimise any negative impact of the activities of these shops.
 
My colleague, Mary Harney, T.D., Minister for Health & Children — who has overall responsibility for the Misuse of Drugs Act, the primary legislation through which these substances can be regulated — has indicated that her Department is currently preparing 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, officials of the Department of Health & Children are consulting with the relevant authorities to ensure that any legitimate uses of the substances involved are not impinged upon. The intention is that the regulations will be drafted within a month but a three month notification process to the EU may be involved. In this context, the advice of the Attorney General is being sought by the Department of Health & Children before the regulations are implemented.
 
Meanwhile, the activities of headshops are also being closely monitored on an on-going 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.
 
In addition, following correspondence with the Attorney General regarding other possible approaches to the matter, I have raised issues around public liability insurance, product liability insurance and consumer protection with the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, as well as planning issues with the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government. The matters involved are being considered by those Departments and I expect to have their views shortly.
 
Planning Authorities may, when granting planning permission, attach conditions in relation to opening hours, if they consider that this is in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area involved. However, in the case of many headshops, I understand that planning permission was not required as significant alterations were not involved in many cases and as a retail outlet usage continued to be involved.
 
I share the concerns of the Deputy regarding the degree of accessibility to headshops, and the opening hours involved, but I can assure her of my determination to pursue appropriate and comprehensive responses to counter the potential threats of these shops, and of “legal highs” more generally.
 
Vol. 702 No. 4  
Written answers – Proposed Legislation
Thursday, 18 February 2010

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