An outright ban on the operation of head shops and their products should be given serious consideration, that is according to Galway West Fianna Fail TD Frank Fahey.
Deputy Fahey confirmed this week that he has written to the Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD urging him to consider the concerns raised by parents and health professionals and to take action.
“Concerns have been raised with me by parents and health professions about the long term effect that the products sold in these shops can have. Medical professionals in Galway have told me that they are now treating a growing number of patients who have suffered side effects and long term effects from taking products sold in these shops.
“It is very possible that use of these so called 'legal highs’ can irreparably damage a person’s mental health and this is not something that we can or should ignore. Parents have spoken to me about their concern that young people can experience psychological problems after taking the products and how this in turn can have a detrimental effect to their general wellbeing.
“The issue of these types of shops is causing concern across Europe and no EU Member State has come up with a comprehensive response so far, but I am calling on Minister Ahern to take action and to give leadership on this issue on a European level.”
Deputy Fahey acknowledged that the activities of head shops are closely monitored by the gardai and last year almost 30 of them underwent searches that resulted in some products being seized. He said that steps have also been taken to ban some of the products such as the ‘magic mushrooms’ and BZP. However, Deputy Fahey is concerned that most of the ‘legal highs’ are not currently listed as controlled substances and there is no authority under the Misuse of Drugs legislation to prevent their sale.
“We cannot let this issue drift. People using these products may very well suffer health problems in the long term and they will then be adding to the demand on our health services.
“We led the way in Europe, and indeed the world, with our smoking ban and I believe we should also give leadership on this important issue,” said Dep Fahey.