Minister vows to crush 'whack' high
THE Government has pledged to eradicate "decisively and comprehensively" a dangerous new legal high.
Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Pat Carey last night insisted the substance 'whack', which mimics the effects of cocaine and has flooded the market, would be dealt with by new legislation.
He said the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill will give gardai the power to close head shops.
The vow came as hospitals yesterday revealed they are struggling to care for patients who have consumed 'whack'.
Individuals who have taken the substance have suffered increased heart and breathing rates and raised blood pressure.
Less than a month ago, the Government moved to ban a list of specified drugs sold in head shops under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
However, manufacturers of the legal highs are attempting to circumvent the banned list by changing the components of the substances in laboratories.
The National Poisons Information Centre said last night it had received 50 reports of people suffering severe adverse reactions after using 'whack'.
Last night Dr Cathal O'Connor of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital Limerick said that, since Thursday, 20 patients had presented to the hospital after taking the substance.
"In some instances we have had patients who have become acutely psychotic,"he said.
"They have developed symptoms that four, five, six, seven days after taking the drug have still not abated."
According to gardai, 36 head shops, of the 102 that were open before the ban, are still trading.
In a statement last night, Mr Carey said he was confident the new law would "put the remaining head shops out of business".
He said it would "broaden the definition of selling psychoactive substances and deal with the issue of operators claiming their products are not for human consumption".
- Patricia McDonagh
Monday June 14 2010