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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Banned: The government is about to make some benzos and other prescription drugs illegal

The Misuse of Drugs Bill 2016 passed through the Dáil yesterday.

Image: Shutterstock/Mliberra

THE MISUSE OF Drugs Bill has made its way through the Oireachtas and will soon become law.

The bill has had a long journey towards becoming law since the Heads of Bill (the draft publication) were first published last year.

It was amended and given approval by the previous government last December to include provisions for medically supervised injecting centres.

The current goventment last month split the bill into two. The first half (which will soon be made law) has to do with banning certain drugs; the second half (which will be published in the Autumn) has to do with legislating for medically supervised injecting centres.

Former Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has criticised the splitting of the bill in two.

He told last month that there was “no reason” for it to be split. 

“There is absolutely no reason for this important legislation to be progressed through two separate bills,” the Labour politician said.

It is clear that Fine Gael ministers want to give the impression of action but want to delay any move that doesn’t fit with their ‘law and order’ approach to social problems.

So what drugs will be illegal?

The drugs to be banned under the act include prescription medication, so-called legal highs and others. They are:

Prescription medication

  • Zopiclone
  • Zaleplon
  • Lisdexamfetamine

Substances controlled under EU and UN obligations

  • Phenazepam
  • 25B-NBOMe and 25C-NBOMe (known colloquially as N-BOMB; this drug led to death of 18-year-old Alex Ryan and the hospitalisation of other in Cork in January)
  • MT-45
  • 4,4′-DMAR

Additional substances to be controlled 

  • 5F-AKB-48 and 5F-PB-22 (linked with synthetic cannabinoid head shop drug Clockwork Orange, which was linked to two deaths in Monaghan last year)

Regulations need to be drawn up to allow “legitimate users” of the drugs (eg. prescription holders) to be allowed to use them safely.

When these regulations are drawn up – which the department said should happen “relatively quickly” – the act will be commenced and become law.

Read: Dublin will be getting its first drug injection centre within 18 months

Read: The needles on the cobbles are nothing new – but the human excrement is shocking

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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