Health Minister slow to act on Head Shops – BREEN.

March 4th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has given a cautious welcome to the news that the Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney is to blacklist certain “legal highs” which are currently on sale in Head Shops.

Deputy Breen claims that the Health Minister has been very slow to act on this issue and he has urged Minister Harney to introduce a system of ongoing monitoring of Head Shops and the Internet in tandem with the banning of these products as “new legal alternatives to illegal drugs are coming on the market as soon as products are banned.”

“I welcome the news that Minister Harney is to take action in this area and I understand from June a list of products, sold as “legal highs”, will be treated the same ways as existing proscribed drugs. These include BZP derivatives, mephedrone, methylone and related cathinones, ketamine, GBL and 1,4BD, tapentadol and certain narcotic and psychotropic substances. Products which have legitimate uses elsewhere will not come under the remit of the new laws.”

“The number of Head Shops in this country has increased dramatically in the last couple of years with two of the Shops operating here in Ennis and it has taken public protests and warnings from the medical experts to spring Minister Harney into action.”

“Last year, BZP tablets were made illegal in compliance with the decision taken at EU level in March 2008, to introduce measures controlling BZP following a risk assessment by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. In 2009, the Gardai seized 309,236 BZP tablets; 2,360 BZP capsules and over 4 kgs of BZP powder, which indicates the extent of the problem, and when BZP tablets were made illegal, they were simply replaced with derivatives. Minister Harney is only moving to ban these products now even though these products have been outlawed in some Nordic Countries for quite some time.”

“It is important that Minister Harney introduces a system of ongoing monitoring of Head Shops and the Internet in tandem with the banning of these products as new legal alternatives to illegal drugs are coming on the market as soon as products are banned and we need to be vigilant as these products pose a serious danger to the health of our young people.”

ENDS