So prohibition can work?
Legislation and the head shops
The Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010 came into operation in August 2010. This legislation made it an offence to sell unregulated psychoactive substances in Ireland. Effectively, the legislation was aimed at shutting down the head shops and it came on foot of a previous Government order in May 2010 which curbed the sale of a number of psychoactive substances through the Misuse of Drugs Act.
It is estimated that in May 2010 there were 102 head shops in Ireland. By September 2010, this figure was put at 10. The promotion and sale of these psychoactive substances is now illegal in Ireland.
Research about head shop drugs
A study by researchers in Trinity College Dublin, recently published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, examined rates of use of head shop drugs (NPS) among adolescents attending addiction treatment both before and after the legislation - after the head shops had largely disappeared.
One finding from the study was that in the pre-legislation group 1 every 3 young people accessing the service had an NPS as part of their problematic drug use. In the post-legislation group, this was figure was zero.
Bobby Smyth video interview
The video below contains an interview with one of the study’s authors, Dr Bobby Smyth. Dr Smyth provides some background information to the research and describes the methodology, limitations and other findings from the study.
The paper citation is:
Smyth, B. P., et al. ‘‘So prohibition can work?’’ Changes in use of novel psychoactive substances among adolescents attending a drug and alcohol treatment service following a legislative ban. International Journal of Drug Policy (2015).
The paper is available from: