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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 18 July, 2018
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Legislation to make unauthorised possession of benzodiazepines illegal

The move has been welcomed by the Dublin City Business Improvement District, which said drug use and behaviour is a “torment to businesses in certain areas of the city”.

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Xanax
Image: Dean812 via Flickr

NEW LEGISLATION IS being drafted that will make it illegal to possess benzodiazepines without authorisation.

The Department of Health said that unauthorised benzodiazepine possession will be made an offence under the legislation.

The move is to assist the Gardaí and the Customs Service in their enforcement role and in the prevention of street-dealing and illicit import of such drugs.

Minister of State at the Department of Health, Roisín Shortall has approved the move to amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations to bring in  more controls on benzodiazepine medicines.

In particular, this includes the fact that all persons importing or exporting benzodiazepines would be required to obtain a licence issued by the IMB on behalf of the Minister. It would be an offence to import or export benzodiazepines without such a licence.

The Department is also looking at a range of measures to address the over-use of legally prescribed benzodiazepines and providing alternative treatment options for existing and potential benzodiazepine users.

Reaction

Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) has called on the Minister for Health to move swiftly to enact the new legislation.

The BID said that the issue of problematic prescription drug use and behaviour is:

a torment to businesses in certain areas of the city, notably in the area bounded by O’ Connell Street, Cathal Brugha Street, the Northern Quays and Talbot Street, with drug users openly dealing in prescription medicines such as zopiclone, diazepam, zimovaine and valium.

According to the BID, a survey conducted by Dublin City Council found that 36 per cent of respondents noted anti-social behaviour and particularly drug related activities as the worst thing about Dublin.

In April, Dublin City BID drafted legislation to update the law dealing with the sale of these products and sent it to the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice. The proposed  regulations would permit members of An Garda Siochana to exercise the same powers as Authorised Offices appointed under Regulation 21 of the Principle Regulations.

The regulations would also confer powers of arrest on gardaí.

Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin City BID, said that Ireland’s international reputation is being damaged by such drugs activity.

We are calling on the Minister to waste no time in moving to enact these changes. We believe that this amendment would have a significant benefit for the public by addressing a loop hole that allows for open drug dealing on our capital’s main streets. This in turn would greatly improve the trading environment of some the city centre businesses who have been tormented by this problem for far too long.

Read: Prescription drug use on the rise among women>

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