Claim of cocaine substitute sold in headshops
The Fine Gael Health Spokesman says that since the ministerial order banning certain substances sold by headshops a new product is being sold as a cocaine substitute.
Dr James Reilly made the claim at the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children where he showed members a packet he said contained this new substance.
Dr Reilly argued that legislation should oblige headshops to have all products that they sell passed by the Medicines Board and the Food Safety Authority.
He said they should also be obliged to pay the related costs of the Medicines Board and the FSA.
Marita Kinsella, Chief Pharmacist with the Department of Health and Children, told the Committee that Dr Reilly's suggestion would pose problems.
These products, she said, are classified neither as medicines nor as food.
Ms Kinsella said that the day after a range of 'legal highs' were banned, the gardaí visited 102 headshops, as well as wholesalers.
She said that there are now only 36 headshops still open.
Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan said that there now is a need for detox facilities for young people who have become dependent on the substances sold by headshops.
Ms Kinsella said that if entities wish to place medicines on the market they are obliged, under current legislation, to seek approval from the Irish Medicines Board or the European Medicines Agency.
However, she said that the headshops try to present their products in such a way as to fall outside the medicinal products legislation.
If a product is labelled as 'bath salts', she said, it is very difficult to prove that it is intended for human consumption.
Ms Kinsella said that the misuse of drugs framework would be the most effective way to control the import, export, production, supply and possession of these psychoactive substances.
She added that this legislation is broad ranging and creates very significant offences and penalties.
On 11 May the Government introduced new measures to criminalise the sale of so-called legal highs.
Minister for Health Mary Harney announced a criminal ban with immediate effect on that day on a list of these drugs.
The ban made it illegal to buy or sell mephedrone, spice products and substances that mimic cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.
These products contain chemicals such as mephedrone, benzylpiperazine, methylone, methedrone, butylone, flephedrone, and MDPV.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern also published the main parts of the New Criminal Law, which makes it illegal to sell hallucinogenic products.
Tuesday, 1 June 2010 16:54