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Ireland rushes law after inadvertently legalizing drugs

/ 02:30 PM March 11, 2015

DUBLIN—Ireland’s parliament sat late into the night Tuesday to rush through emergency laws to close a loophole making the possession of ecstasy, ketamine, magic mushrooms and other drugs temporarily legal.

The situation arose after the Court of Appeal struck down part of Ireland’s 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act after a legal challenge.

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Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who is a medical doctor, warned that the substances “all have very significant health risks that outweigh any perceived recreational benefits.”

Varadkar said legislation had been prepared in advance of the court decision and that it would pass both houses of parliament within 24 hours.

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“We had no way of knowing what the court would decide today, but we prepared for this possibility,” Varadkar said.

“The emergency legislation I am introducing today will re-instate the status quo ante and re-control all drugs that were controlled prior to this judgement.”

The legal challenge was brought by a man prosecuted for possession of methylethcathinone, a substance once stocked by “head shops” that sell legal or herbal stimulants.

Methylethcathinone was added to the list of banned substances in 2011 after a government crackdown.

But the judges found the stimulant’s addition to the list was unconstitutional as parliament had not been consulted.

As a knock-on effect, over 100 drugs restricted by that part of the law were no longer illegal to possess.

The sale, supply, import and export of the drugs remained illegal however.

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In addition, “the supply, possession or sale of older drugs such as heroin, cocaine or cannabis” was not affected, according to the Department of Health.

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