Ban on illegal highs 'must be extended to internet'

A ban on ’head shop’ highs must be extended to the internet, campaigners claimed today.

Despite legislation outlawing the sale of psychoactive substances, Youth Work Ireland warned they are still available online.

The organisation said the Government must now turn its attention to the “final frontier” of websites that continue to ship the substances into Ireland.

“Customs checks will help in this regard but realistically cannot cover every transaction,” said spokesman Michael McLoughlin .

“There has been strong action involving internet service providers in relation to downloading music so surely this can be applied to this area.”

Mr McLoughlin also called for consideration of changing online payments regulations, particularly for under 18s, to combat the importation of the herbal or synthetic highs.

Youth Work Ireland issued the warning as the Health Service Executive (HSE) launched a campaign about the dangers of taking psychoactive substances, after the recent Government-imposed ban.

Messages on radio adverts, in cinemas, bars, clubs and at festivals over the summer will caution about the danger of paranoia, impotence, kidney failure, heart problems, seizures and death as a result of taking legal or illegal drugs.

Alice O’Flynn, HSE assistant national director for social inclusion, insisted the risks to people’s mental and physical health are very real.

“Changes in legislation have helped to limit the sale and supply of these substances however, there are always other means by which young people will come into contact with drugs – whether through friends or online,” she said.

A website – www.drugs.ie – has also been updated to include new information on illegal or legal highs used as alternatives to the likes of cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

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