A FORMER minister has claimed it would be a "huge mistake" to ban head shops.
Jim McDaid, who is also a GP, argues that Ireland is "on the verge of making one huge, colossal mistake in regards to the whole problem of drugs".
The Donegal North East TD's remarks came after Health Minister Mary Harney promised to bring in legislation to deal with head shops by June.
However, Mr McDaid has revealed that he is among a tiny minority who supports the controversial stores and says he has communicated that stance to the Minister.
The doctor also implied that the politicians spend to much time listening to middle-class hysteria.
"I don't think it's the smart thing to do," he said on Newstalk's Lunchtime with Eamon Keane.
"I do not think and I know this is a controversial sentence, that the banning of these substances and the banning of these headshops is the proper way forward and there is plenty of information and plenty of statistics to prove the point that I'm making," he said.
Mr McDaid is the first high-profile politician to speak out in favour of maintaining the status quo on headshops, but at the same time he said that he is not endorsing them.
He said an education campaign was required to reduce the demand for head shops.
"The history of banning substances is there for everyone to see. It actually increases the demand for the substances."