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Urgent all-Ireland action needed on so-called 'legal highs'

7 April, 2016 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson is calling for urgent all-Ireland action to tackle the scourge of so-called 'legal highs'.

A member of the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee, MEP Anderson said;

"A 2014 European Commission report into drug use showed that a massive 20% of young Irish people had used new psychoactive substances - so-called 'legal highs'. These products can be highly toxic, immensely addictive and distributed legally amongst our young people.

"Last year in the European Parliament I was successful in getting a number of these horrible products subject to Europe wide control measures. Research carried out by the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Abuse showed us just how dangerous and, in many cases, lethal 'legal highs' can be.

Speaking in the wake of The EU Drug Markets Report 2016, MEP Anderson said;

"Yesterdays report shows that Ireland is the biggest user of new psychoactive substances in Europe. This combined with the 2014 report shows how the problem is continuing to grow.

"I am one of the lead MEPs on a new 'legal highs' file that is currently stuck in a bureaucratic quagmire between the Commission and the Council. We will continue to pressure both institutions to advance this file.

"Given the various opt-in and opt-out clauses of EU justice legislation and the fact that drug issues remain a largely reserved matter of the British government, these horrific drugs can and, on occasion, do have different legal status in the north than the south. This invariably leads to cross-border drug dealing.

"Urgent action is needed across Ireland to counter this scourge. So-called 'legal highs' must be subject to equal control measures, north and south."

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