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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020
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Health Minister moves to make 'Z-drugs' a controlled substance in the wake of gangland murders

The prescription sleeping pills. which are abused by heroin addicts, are extremely dangerous, he says.

Image: Sam Boal

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has introduced legislation that will help take so-called ‘Z-drugs’, or sleeping pills, off the streets.

Harris today said he had decided to expedite legislation relating to prescription drugs, Zopiclone and Zaleplon, in the wake of a spate of gangland murders in an ongoing Dublin drugs feud.

The Z-drugs, which Harris said are currently being sold illicitly on the streets, will now be added to the controlled substance list under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“Following the recent murders in Dublin’s north inner city, the government decided to expedite the drafting and publication of parts of the Misuse of Drugs Bill originally scheduled for the autumn,” Harris said in a statement this afternoon.

These drugs are extremely dangerous, they affect people in horrific ways with serious health implications for people who use them and tragically, have been responsible for several deaths.

Known as Zimmos, Z-drugs are highly powerful sleeping pills, which are used by heroin addicts to help them sleep and numb pain, especially during heroin ‘droughts’.

Since last September, there have been seven murders linked to a feud between rival drug gangs in the city.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the bill would help gardaí tackling the illegal sale of the substances.

23/6/206. Misuse of Drugs Bills Source: Sam Boal

“I am aware of the ongoing problems the gardaí face, particularly in parts of inner city Dublin to stop this activity,” Fitzgerald said.

This bill will assist the ongoing and targeted response to gangland crime. Every effort must be made to prevent their unlawful sale.

Fitzgerald said regulations would be required to allow for legitimate use of the drugs, but she said they should be drafted relatively quickly.

Harris brought the bill to the Seanad today, which is the first step in the parliamentary process. He said he hopes it can be completed by the summer break.

A second Misuse of Drugs Bill will be introduced in the autumn, providing for the establishment of supervised drug injection centres, he added.

Read: Dublin’s drug laneways: One year on, the alleys are still littered with needles

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