Speaking in the Seanad in support of an all-party motion to tackle the proliferation of head shops in Ireland, Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Drugs, Senator Jerry Buttimer said:
“The explosion in the number of head shops that have sprung up in our towns and villages has to be dealt with as theses establishments, which are nothing more than a ‘front door’ for selling drugs, pose an inordinate risk, most notably to our young people.
“It is estimated that the number of head shops in Ireland is now nearing 100. In an attempt to address this burning issue, Fine Gael in the Seanad has tabled a motion (see below) and is in support of an all-party committee and legislation to tackle the issue head-on. In the Dáil Fine Gael has called for cross-party support for legislation to regulate the growing number of head shops.
“With head shops, we have the unregulated selling of drugs, with our young people in particular, being targeted. Families are being destroyed, the mental health of our young people is being severely impacted and lives are being shattered. How long must wait until legislation is enacted to deal with this matter? Head shops are drug dealers by another name who are laughing in the face of a State that stands idly by permitting their existence.
“While action was taken to outlaw the sale of the recreational drug BZP (benzylpiperazine) or ‘legal e’ last year, new mind-altering substances such as Mephedrone have made their way to the Irish market. This substance has already been banned in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Israel and Sweden where a teenager died after taking the drug.
“There is no doubt that if this substance is also banned in Ireland, as it should be, it won’t be long before another equally harmful substance takes it place. Cross party co-operation is needed to address this critical issue. Fine Gael has called for head shops to be subject to specification regulation and for planning law to play a more rigorous role when dealing with these premises. We do not tolerate drug dealers selling mind-altering substances openly on our streets. Why are we tolerating head shops doing the same?”