‘Head’ stores selling drug alternatives face closure
‘HEAD’ stores selling legal alternatives to mind-altering drugs could be closed down next year under laws being considered by the Government.
A number of TDs have expressed concern about the effects in their local communities of the explosion of head shops selling herbal products and chemical-based party and energy pills.
Junior Minister with responsibility for drugs strategy John Curran has sought the advice of the Attorney General on whether legislation could be introduced to ban these stores.
He has "identified head shops as an area of concern" according to an official at the Department of Health, and expressed his personal beliefs that they should be closed down.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the Forensic Science Laboratory is analysing products seized during searches earlier this year in 25 head shops around the country.
"Pending the outcome of same, investigation files will be submitted to the Law Officers in course for directions as to what charges, if any, should be preferred," said Mr Ahern in a written response to a Dáil question.
"A number of these types of premises have already been subject of a Garda investigation for suspected breaches of the law, resulting in the submission of investigation files to the Law Officers," he said.
The minister was responding to questions from Kildare South Fianna Fáil TD Seán O Fearghaíl, who expressed concern about the "growing phenomenon" and said "these outlets should be barred in the interest of public health".
In October 2006, the Irish Examiner revealed that drugs up to five times the strength of ecstasy were being sold over the counter in at least 15 head shops around Ireland, despite being classified as a class A drug in the US since 2001.
These party pills werefinally banned in April when their main ingredient, BZP, was listed as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
This made it a criminal offence to buy, sell or possess the drug, often called "pep pills", which often come under the name Jax or Smileys.
Fine Gael has said the planning permission criteria for sex shops should also be applied to head shops.
By Mary Regan, Political Reporter
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2009