Hard drugs temporarily legal in Ireland due to constitutional loophole

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's Health Minister, introduced emergency legislation in the lower house of the Irish parliament yesterday evening, to negate the legal loophole created by a decision from Dublin's Court of Appeal that morning. Various hard drugs — including ketamine, ecstasy, and magic mushrooms — were rendered legal, following the law governing their prohibition being found to be unconstitutional.

Ecstasy is among the drugs temporarily legal in Ireland
Image: DEA, US.

The drug possession case of Stanislav Bederev led to the legal loophole; his lawyers arguing the 2010 addition of several drugs to the country's controlled substances list, governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, was unlawful. They contended it was unconstitutional to add these substances to the list without consulting the Oireachtas — i.e., parliament.

The Irish government is stressing the urgency of parliamentary legislation to rectify the situation. "It is now important from both a public health and criminal justice perspective that the legislation be enacted as soon as possible", said a government spokesperson. The Health Minister expressed concern both for the welfare of individuals taking advantage of the temporary legality of the substances involved, and for drug-related convictions handed down since the now-unconstitutional changes came into effect.

"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 judgment", said Mr Varadkar.