Written Answers - Proposed Legislation.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 666 No. 1

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  210.  Deputy Ulick Burke  Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke   asked the Minister for Health and Children  Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney   when she will introduce the appropriate legislation banning the availability and sale of the herbal drug benzylpiperazine here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38649/08]

Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and regulations made thereunder regulate and control the import, export, production, supply and possession of a range of named narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances listed in the Schedules to the Act. Substances are scheduled under the Act in accordance with Ireland’s obligations under international conventions and/or where there is evidence that the substances are causing significant harm to public health in Ireland.

The list of scheduled substances is kept under review; in particular, my Department reviews any evidence that substances are being abused and are causing significant harm to public health.

Benzylpiperazine (BZP) is not currently a scheduled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, a risk assessment of new psychoactive substances carried out by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction has found that the use of BZP can lead to medical problems even if the long term effects of the substance are still unknown. Against this [216]background, the European Council decided in March 2008 to place BZP under control, which was deemed to pose an excessive risk as a ‘party pill’, in accordance with the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Member States must act as soon as possible, but no later than one year from the date of the decision, to introduce control measures and criminal sanctions. Work is under way in my Department with a view to introducing the necessary control measures here by way of statutory regulation within the given timeframe, to restrict the availability of BZP.

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