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Gardaí to raid head shops as ‘legal high’ ban takes effect

Gardai will raid head shops around the country tomorrow night to ensure all 'legal highs' are no longer for sale as new laws come into effect at midnight tonight making it a criminal offence to sell all psychotropic substances.

Detectives from the Garda National Drugs Unit (GNDU) were this weekend visiting the country's head shops, which number 39, warning them that it is illegal and they face arrest if they continue to sell these products.

The Psychoactive Substances Act, a blanket ban on all remaining legal highs, comes into effect at midnight. It is expected to close down Ireland's remaining head shops. If any of the shops are still selling products, they face prosecution and a jail term of up to five years.

In May, the government introduced new measures to criminalise the sale of several legal highs, including mephedrone. But immediately after this ban, a range of new products came on the market with a different chemical compound that was not covered by the ban. Nine new 'legal highs' became widely available in head shops in June.

Among the new substances are 'White Columbia', a powder containing ethcathinone. Another popular powder that becomes illegal as of midnight is called 'Rush'. The Sunday Tribune purchased both of these products from Nirvana head shop at Dublin's South William Street on Friday evening, at a cost of €65 for 1.7 grammes.

A small queue of people waited to buy products from the hatch in the front door at Nirvana. The packaging clearly states that the substances are "not for human consumption". They are sold as bath salts. Experts have warned users they are like "guinea pigs" as the effects of the drugs are unknown.

"The new products you bought have been causing the same health problems as mephedrone," said a garda source. "We are visiting all the head shops this weekend and warning them that legal highs they currently sell are illegal as of midnight on Sunday. But we expect a legal challenge to be mounted to define what constitutes a psychotropic substance."

Source: Ali Bracken, The Sunday Tribume, 23/08/2010

Posted by Andy on 08/23 at 09:12 AM in Legal and illegal highs
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