Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland into day two of accidental drug legalisation

'Think of your health' pleads health minister Leo Varadkar

BY CHRISTOPHER HOOTON

The Republic of Ireland's health minister Leo Varadkar has cautioned anyone thinking of taking advantage of the legal grey area surrounding ecstasy, ketamine and other drugs to think about their health.

"They all have very significant health risks that outweigh any perceived recreational benefits," he said as excitement and mirth mounted following the Court of Appeal's judgement.

Emergency legislation to ban the possession of psychoactive drugs rendered legal by the change was rushed through the Dáil last night, and The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015 will go to the Seanad today before being sent to the President to sign.

According to RTE, Mr Varadkar said that he will ask the President to add his signature and bring the bill into law as soon as possible.

Other bills were postponed while the embarrassing loophole was ironed out last night.

"We had no way of knowing what the court would decide today, but we prepared for this possibility," Varadkar said.

In what it deemed a "constitutional issue of far-reaching importance", the Court of Appeal unanimously declared a regulation making the possession of methylethcathinone (known as 4-Mec or Snow Blow) illegal now invalid, as the 1977 Misues of Drugs Act was being added to without consultation of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament).

The Department of Health issued an explanatory memorandum saying that as a result of the judgement, "all substances controlled by means of Government Orders made under section 2(2) cease to be controlled with immediate effect, and their possession ceases to be an offence. These include ecstasy, benzodiazepines and new psychoactive substances, so-called ‘headshop drugs’".

The act had also been used to outlaw the possession of ketamine, magic mushrooms and other drugs, leaving widespread confusion as to what is and isn't illegal in Ireland until the 'status quo' is restored at midnight tonight.

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