Head shop ‘legal highs’ to be outlawed

THE Government is drawing up laws to ban “legal high” products on sale in head shops throughout the country.

The laws, to come into effect in June under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, will also make the possession of proscribed head shop products an offence, but not all head shop “legal high” goods are being blacklisted.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Mary Harney said the Government was acting as quickly as possible but had to allow three months’ notice, under the European Technical Standards Directive, for EU approval before the new legislation comes into effect.

Yesterday, the weekly meeting of the Cabinet discussed the public outcry in response to the establishment of head shops selling smoking paraphernalia and synthesised chemicals which mimic the effect of hash, cocaine and ecstasy.

Ministers agreed that a list of products, sold as legal highs, would from June next be treated the same way as existing proscribed drugs.

The substances that are to be banned, for sale or possession, include synthetic cannabinoids or so-called “spice” products.

Other head shop chemicals which are soon to be outlawed include BZP derivatives, mephedrone, methylone and related cathinones, kettamine, GBL and 1,4BD, tapentadol.

Chemical products known to have narcotic and psychotic properties, sold as ’magic’, ‘snow’, ‘blow’ and BZP ‘liquid ecstasy’, are also being black-listed.

But products “which have legitimate uses elsewhere” will not come under the remit of the new laws.

A spokesperson for Ms Harney said the Government “has moved with alacrity” in response to the growing public condemnation of head shop products.

The Oireachtas Justice Committee is also investigating head shops and will probe a possible ban.

Two stores in Dublin’s north inner city were targeted by suspected arsonists last month.

Youth Work Ireland, formerly known as the National Youth Federation, welcomed yesterday’s decision but warned about head shop products not covered by the legislation.

“Of course the proscribing of substances which are to all intents and purposes identical to BZP is welcome but it really only represents a catching-up process where a more proactive approach is needed,” said Michael McLoughlin, of the group.

“This announcement is a good start but things need to go a lot further to deal with legal highs and to provide a more positive environment in terms of public health for young people.”

In Clonakilty, West Cork, Labour Party Counsellor Aidan Pendlebury said the Government should approach the issue of head shops “from the ground up and the top down”. He called for “a comprehensive study of the needs of young people in modern Ireland”.


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