Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Drugs, Senator Jerry Buttimer, said Minister Harney’s promise this afternoon (Wednesday), to bring in legislation to deal with head shops by June, if believed, is to be welcomed. Senator Buttimer went on to say that the Government’s record for delivering on promises leaves him less than confident that the Minister will move quickly to resolve the matter.
“Minister Harney’s pledge this afternoon in the Seanad to bring forward legislation to deal with head shops by June, if delivered, is to be welcomed as the proliferation of head shops in towns and villages across Ireland is causing untold damage to our young people, in particular, and their mental health.
“Head shops have reached national prominence in recent weeks but the reality is that they have become embedded in our larger cities and town over the last number of years. Medical professionals, however, have reported a relentless rise in the number of teenagers and young adults being hospitalised with panic, paranoia, delirium and psychosis as a result of ‘head shop highs’. In one weekend in last month, five individuals were examined at the Mercy Hospital following adverse reactions to such drugs.
“The products sold in these legally owned and, by all accounts, tax compliant premises are designed to mimic the effects of illegal substances. The reality is that we need changes in the law to reflect the damage they are currently inflicting on society. Currently the Medicines Control Board has no control over the products sold in these shops.
“As it stands there is a lack of regulation in the production, strength and consistency of these products. There is a lack of medical assessment in their use and no control is exercised over the age of people purchasing them.
“Any attempt to further ignore this issue is a damming indictment of a drugs awareness and education programme that has failed and of a Government that refuses to tackle the thorny issue of drug use and addiction.
“Fine Gael has put forward a five point plan the Government must adopt when drafting legislation to deal with head shops. The products being sold are a clear and immediate danger to our people. I am calling on the Minister to make good on her word, to introduce and enforce regulation to deal with head shops once and for all.”