A host of Class A drugs could technically become legal in the Republic of Ireland in the next 24 hours due an accidental loophole in drugs legislation.
The Dail will sit tonight to pass emergency legislation after the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act was deemed unconstitutional by the Irish Court of Appeal, making the drugs it prohibits technically legal.
The fresh legislation will be rushed through, but comes with a provision that it can only take effect the day after it is signed. This means Ireland enters a grey area with regards to the legality of drugs such as ecstasy, ketamine and magic mushrooms.
In what it deemed a “constitutional issue of far-reaching importance”, the three-judge Court of Appeal unanimously declared a regulation making the possession of methylethcathinone (known as 4-Mec or Snow Blow) illegal now invalid, as the 1977 Act was being added to without consultation of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament).
The Department of Health issued an explanatory memorandum saying that as a result of the judgement, “all substances controlled by means of Government Orders made under section 2(2) cease to be controlled with immediate effect, and their possession ceases to be an offence. These include ecstasy, benzodiazepines and new psychoactive substances, so-called ‘headshop drugs’”.
Ecstasy refers to MDMA, while benzodiazepines include diazepam or ‘Valium’.
125 substances are thought to not be affected by the judgement and remain as illegal as ever, including cannabis, heroin and cocaine.
A Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill will be considered in the Dáil by the Health Minister Leo Varadkar between 8pm and 11pm tonight, with a Sinn Fein private members’ bill having to be postponed.