Ban on 'head shop' goods due by June
REGULATIONS WHICH will outlaw a range of products sold as “legal highs” in “head shops” across the State are to be introduced before June, the Department of Health has said.
A number of synthetic or herbal substances that mimic the effect of illegal drugs are to be brought under the control of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 because of the “ongoing health risks” associated with them, a spokeswoman for the department confirmed last night.
It is understood the regulations will apply to products such as Smoke and Snow, which are marketed as “pot pourri” and “stimulating bath salts” respectively but consumed in the same manner as cannabis and cocaine.
The move to make the substances illegal comes amid mounting criticism towards the Government from the Opposition, parents and anti-drugs groups who have called for a ban on head shops which have become increasingly common across the country.
Minister for Health Mary Harney said her department was preparing regulations, similar to those in Britain, which would introduce controls on a range of substances on sale in head shops.
British authorities banned a range of “legal highs” including GBL, which offers euphoric effects like ecstasy, and chemicals used to make herbal smoking products such as Smoke in December.
“This will make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions under the Misuse of Drugs Act,” Ms Harney said.
In 2006, the department introduced regulations which banned psychotropic (magic) mushrooms, while last year it banned BZP, then a legal alternative to ecstasy.
Ms Harney also said her department was working closely with Minister of State for Drugs John Curran, who was co-ordinating a Government response across various departments to tackle the problems associated with the proliferation of head shops.
Earlier yesterday, Donegal TD Dr Jim McDaid said he believed introducing an across-the-board ban on head shops and their products would be a “colossal mistake”. Dr McDaid said this would push the substances onto the streets and into the control of drug dealers. “I honestly believe that if we ban these head shops or substances we are on the verge of making one huge colossal mistake with regard to the problem of drugs in this country,” he told Newstalk’s Lunchtime with Eamon Keane.
Dr McDaid, a former minister who lost the Fianna Fáil party whip in 2008 when he abstained on a vote on the cervical cancer vaccine, said a campaign educating people of the dangers of the products rather than a ban would be the best way forward.
February 5, 2010