A NUMBER of 'legal highs' sold in controversial head shops across the country will be banned by the summer.
And a spokesman for Ms Harney said head shops would be constantly monitored and new, emerging substances would be banned in future if more action is needed.
The substances to be removed from the head shops shelves include synthetic cannabinoids, better known as 'Spice' products, BZP derivatives, mephedrone -- the fourth most popular club drug -- which is better known as 'Snow' or 'Blow, methlyone and related cathinones.
Ketamine, which is also used as a horse tranquiliser, will be banned too, as will GBL, better known as liquid ecstasy. Tapentadol and "certain narcotic and psychotropic substances" will also be illegal. The latest ban follows moves last summer to make BZP itself illegal.
The products will come under the Misuse of Drugs act and the ban will take effect in June. The Government must notify the EU and it will take three months before the substances become illegal. Ms Harney's spokesman denied the Government had been slow to act, saying that it had already banned magic mushrooms and BZP.
He added that some of the substances sold in head shops had other legitimate uses, so careful consideration needed to be given to the area.
The Government says banning these legal highs is an important and necessary step but is just one of a range of interventions needed to tackle substance abuse.
Head shops themselves cannot be banned and Mr Curran is looking at ways of tightening consumer protection and planning laws to halt the spread of the shops across the country.