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Ahern's head shops law full of loopholes

THE Government's failure to ban drug paraphernalia such as bongs means head shop owners will still operate, it has been claimed.

Anti-drugs groups are annoyed that promises the items would be banned will not be honoured.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern pointed to the complexity of legislation needed to outlaw paraphernalia as a reason for not including it in the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill.

The bill is being rushed through ahead of the Dail summer recess.

But Grainne Kenny of Europe Against Drugs said the Government is throwing a lifeline to head shops by not including provisions covering bongs and pipes.

She likened the laws to banning bullets "without banning the gun", adding it will be the same as prohibition in the US, "knock three times and you're in".

Customers can say they are only buying a bong but they will get whatever substance they want, she said.

Mr Ahern said he was concerned head shops were acting as a "gateway" to illicit drug use and criminality, especially for young people.

A provision that "any pipe or other object made or adapted for use in connection with the consumption of a controlled drug or psychoactive substance" will not be included in the final legislation, he added.


He said there are problems prohibiting these items as they might have "legitimate uses".

Mr Ahern has said head shops will be put out of business for good as a result of the proposed laws.

The sale or supply of substances with psychoactive effects for human consumption will become a criminal offence under the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

Already, Health Minister Mary Harney has listed some 200 "legal high" drugs as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.

These included mephedrone, synthetic cannabinoids and BZP derivatives.

Substances like 'whack' have been produced subsequently and the proposed law aims to clamp down on products as they come on to the market.