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Legislation to address street trading of benzodiazepines 'due in early 2013'

Deputy Roisín Shorthall had approved the move to amend the Misuse of Drugs Regulations earlier this year. It has been confirmed that it will be 2013 before it is introduced.

LEGISLATION THAT WILL address the street-trading of Benzodiazepines is expected to be brought in in 2013.

Deputy Róisín Shortall said last May that new legislation is being drafted that will make it illegal to possess benzodiazepines without authorisation.

The Department of Health said at the time 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.

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

Deputy Shortall asked the Minister for Health in a Dáil question about the progress made to date on changes to regulations under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The new Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Alex White, informed her that the department of health is reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Regulations with a view to, amongst other issues, introducing additional controls on certain prescription drugs being traded illicitly, including benzodiazepine medicines.

My department has consulted with key stakeholders in relation to the proposed amendments, which include introducing import and export controls as well as an offence of possession, thereby assisting the law enforcement roles of Customs and of the Garda Síochána. It is anticipated that new legislation will be introduced in early 2013.

A survey conducted by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) found that there was an increase in the percentage of adults who reported they use sedatives and tranquilisers in the last year (7 per cent) compared to five per cent in 2006/7.

Read: Legislation to make unauthorised possession of benzodiazepines illegal>

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