Gardai are unable to pursue prosecutions for the sale and possession of some ‘legal highs’ even if they have been linked deaths, according to a senior Garda in the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
“We have an issue with some new psychoactive substances… there are certain proofs we need for the courts and one of them is to prove they are psychoactive,” Detective Inspector Tony Howard told last night’s Í programme on RTÉ.
The psychoactive substance Clockwork Orange, in particular, was linked to the deaths of two young men in Monaghan earlier this year. The synthetic cannabis is predominantly sold online, but also by street dealers.
“With Clockwork Orange, which I am very aware of, there is an issue. But it’s not just an issue here in this jurisdiction — there’s very little international research around that particular drug,” said Det Insp Howard
When asked if the gardaí could pursue a prosecution in respect to this ‘legal high’, Det Insp Howard said “at the moment, we can’t”.
“But it is only a matter of time before the Department of Health brings it in as a controlled drug, under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which is our primary legislation for dealing with illicit drugs here in Ireland,” he said.
To date, just five prosecutions have been taken under The Psychoactive Substances Act, the legislation introduced to outlaw legal highs. In order to pursue a prosecution the drugs seized or being sold must be classified as psychoactive.
Sharon McQuaid, whose son PJ’s death was linked to the use of Clockwork Orange, spoke to RTÉ about her experience.
“At the end of the day I blame myself for PJ, for everything that has gone on, but if the gardaí had been tougher it wouldn’t have been as easy to get this stuff,” she said. Minister of state with responsibility for drugs strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, also responded to the concerns of the report.
“We have an issue in this country in relation to psychoactive substances,” he said. “Legislation being prepared will be extremely robust — the heads of this bill have already been published and it will be enacted early next year.”
By Kelly O'Brien - The Irish Examiner/Nov. 18, 2015
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Gardai Unable to Pursue Legal High Cases--Even Those Involving Death