Skip Page Header

Home > 231. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the legal loophole which allows so-called head shops to sell products with serious psychiatric side effects. [4096/10]

[Oireachtas] 231. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the legal loophole which allows so-called head shops to sell products with serious psychiatric side effects. [4096/10]. (27 Jan 2010)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/01/27/00137...


National Drugs Strategy

231. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take to address the legal loophole which allows so-called head shops to sell products with serious psychiatric side effects; her views on the need for urgent regulation in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
 
233. Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children when the research advisory group on head shops was set up under the aegis of the national advisory committee on drugs; the number of members of this group; when the group will report; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
 
234. Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children when the research advisory group on head shops, set up under the aegis of the national advisory committee on drugs, will report; the length of time it will take her Department to bring in regulations once this report has been made; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
 
235. Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has plans to regulate the head shops that exist; if she will take action before the research advisory group on head shops, set up under the aegis of the national advisory committee on drugs, reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
 
Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 and 233 to 235, inclusive, 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’, my Department is in the process of drafting regulations 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 will also be necessary to notify the Commission of any restrictions which may impact on legitimate industrial activities. It will be appreciated, therefore, that it is likely to be some months before the regulations can be implemented.
 
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. 700 No. 2  
Written Answers – National Drugs Strategy
Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Repository Staff Only: item control page