The Irish Government is being forced to rush through emergency legislation in the Dail tonight after the Court of Appeal struck down a law banning so-called legal highs.
Until the new emergency legislation is passed, it is believed possessing a range of substances including ecstasy, ketamine and crystal meth - so called ‘‘headshop drugs" - is legal.
The memorandum explaining the emergency bill states: "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".
According to the document, the judgment has no implications for the approximately 125 substances, including cannabis, heroin and cocaine, as they are outlawed by another area of the bill.
Earlier, a Government regulation declaring illegal a psychoactive substance sold lawfully in “Head Shops” until 2011 was found to be unconstitutional.
In what the Court of Appeal said was a “constitutional issue of far-reach importance”, the three-judge court unanimously said a regulation making the possession of methylethcathinone illegal was invalid.
The court said Section 2(2) of the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act, under which the regulation was brought in, was unconstitutional because it purports to vest in the Government with law making powers which are in the exclusive authority of the Oireachtas. The State indicated today it may seek to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on a point of exceptional public importance.
However, on foot of the Court’s decision, the Dail agenda for today has been amended on foot of the judgement and will sit until 11.30pm this evening.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar is to bring the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill 2015 to the Dail this evening for a three-hour debate. All stages of the bill are to be discussed before a vote is taken.
The bill will then go the Seanad tomorrow morning before being sent to President Michael D Higgins for his signature.
This morning’s case concerned a prosecution of a man for possession of methylethcathinone which was among a number of substances put on the controlled drugs list in 2010.
Stanislav Bederev, who is denying criminal charges of having the substance for supply in 2012, brought a High Court challenge seeking to stop his trial claiming the new regulations were unconstitutional.
Lawyers for Lithuanian-born Mr Bederev argued it was not lawful to put this substance on the controlled drug list because there are no principles and policies guiding the introduction of such rules.
In particular, it was argued by his counsel Sunniva McDonagh, the decision to ban a particular drug was a matter to be considered by the Oireachtas before the relevant government minister could formally initiate the ban.
Source: Irish Independent