Ban on head-shop highs due in three months
A BAN on the selling of controversial legal highs in head shops will come into effect in late June, Community Affairs Minister Pat Carey revealed yesterday.
Mr Carey told the Dail the Government had begun a three-month process earlier this week to notify the EU of its intention to bring in regulations to ban the substances.
He revealed this would take three months to complete, but insisted the wait would lead to watertight measures that would stand up to legal challenges.
The comments come as anger continues to rage at the number of head shops selling substances that mimic the effects of illegal drugs.
The fury has led to attacks on stores around the country and complaints by concerned parents about the lack of regulation to stop them trading.
Garda Commissioner Factna Murphy recently argued that the force and politicians had to get a grip on the spread of head shops.
However, head shop owners have hit back by forming a representative association to defend their right to trade.
Yesterday, Fine Gael TD Michael Ring warned children would die if something was not done to stop the "gangsters in drugs shops" trading.
The TD insisted the European Parliament had said a state could introduce measures without EU approval, if there were concerns about public health and safety.
Mr Carey admitted the crisis had "spun out of control" in a short space of time and said he was taken aback at the fact that middle-aged people were buying the substances.
However, he said that the Health Department was finalising regulations to introduce controls on a range of substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
Such regulations would make the possession and sale of these substances illegal and subject to criminal sanctions.
But the EU required notification that such measures were going ahead and they would be approved by the EU in three months.
"The Government has approved the commencement of a required notification process to the EU and it is envisaged that the regulations controlling the various substances will come into effect in late June, at the conclusion of the three-month process involved," he told the Dail.
"I assure the House this process will take three months and suggestions it will take longer are not correct," he said.