Drugs Ruling: Illegality ruling raised in hearing over drugs

A drug dealer has raised with a circuit court judge the issue of yesterday’s Court of Appeal ruling that the illegality of certain drugs is now unconstitutional.

Judge Martin Nolan had remanded Darren Snee, aged 25, in custody before lunch yesterday after he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cocaine, cannabis, and MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy, for sale or supply at his home on November 18, 2013.

Snee, of Oak Court Close, Palmerstown, Dublin, is due to be sentenced on March 27, after the court heard the MDMA had a street value of €17,050, the cannabis was worth €819, and the cocaine was valued at €399.

When the court resumed, hours after the appeals court’s judgment, Pieter Le Vert, defending, raised the issue of the ruling with Judge Nolan.

He said the decision meant that making the possession of the likes of MDMA, headshop drugs, and crystal meth illegal was now unconstitutional.

Mr Le Vert advised that the prosecuting barrister in the case, John Quirke, was awaiting instructions from the DPP.

Judge Nolan said that as Snee had also been found in possession of cocaine and cannabis, which have not been made legal, he did not believe his remand in custody pending sentence was unfair. “If I thought that doing what I did was injustice to your client, I would allow you to re-enter the case, but I am happy with my order,” he said.

The three-judge appeals court yesterday said that section 2(2) of the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act, under which the regulation was brought in, was unconstitutional because it purports to vest in the Government law-making powers which are in the exclusive authority of the Oireachtas. The court concluded it was “a constitutional issue of far-reach importance”.

Following the decision, an explanatory memorandum from the Department of Health said that as a result of the judgment, “all substances controlled by means of government orders made under section 2(2) cease to be controlled with immediate effect, and their possession ceases to be an offence”.

These include ecstasy, benzodiazepines, and psychoactive substances often known as headshop drugs.

It said the judgment had “no implications” for approximately 125 substances, including cannabis, heroin, and cocaine.

Earlier, Detective Garda John McWeeney said that Snee was seen handing cannabis to known drug users outside his house in Palmerstown.

A search of the house found six bags of cocaine and a bag of rock cocaine hidden in a can of Coors Light in Snee’s wardrobe.

A further 24 deals of cannabis herb was found in his wardrobe while €2,260 in cash was found hidden under his bed. A digital weighing scales was located beside his bed and a black drum was found outside his bedroom window which contained 19 bags of MDMA.

Snee said he was holding the drugs for someone else as he owed them money. He said the cannabis was for his own use. He claimed the cash was birthday and Christmas money and that the person wanted him to store the drugs.

Mr Le Vert said Snee, a boxing coach, is still using cannabis but a lot less of it now. He said he wants to study architecture


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