A legal loophole makes drugs legal in Ireland for the next 24 hours at very least, and possibly longer, according to the Journal. Health Minister Leo Varadkar introduced legislation to the Dáil to make the drugs illegal again, but a quirk in the new bill postpones its enactment for 24 hours after signing by the Seanad.
The Irish Court of Appeal overturned the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1977 as unconstitutional earlier this morning, according to the Journal. This means drugs added to the original schedule of outlawed drugs, or added subsequently using the Act as justification, are now legal by default.
According to the Journal, the core issue was using a “ministerial order without recourse to the Oireachtas,” the Irish Parliament, and this violated Article 15 of the Irish Constitution. The two houses neither agreed nor consulted with one another, and any of the drugs outlawed using this now unconstitutional method are now legal.
The following is according to the Independent.
“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 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act section 2 (1-4), titled “Controlled Drugs,” states that the government as a whole can amend the Act to add or remove drugs. This implies both houses have to act together to amend the Act, not just one.
The Irish Court of Appeal saw this breach in protocol as the “constitutional issue of far-reaching importance” that made them three overturn the Act. However, according to the Journal, even though the Act was overturned, convictions will not be.
The 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act – quite possibly one of the most important Acts of the country’s existence – covers a number of illicit drugs, whether in “substance, product, or preparation” form, as listed in Schedule 1.
This includes some of the most popular of street drugs such as ecstasy (MDNA), methamphetamine (crystal meth), LSD, mescaline, cocaine, benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax), ketamine (Special K), and almost 100 others. The Irish drug schedule is classified much the same way that the United States classifies illicit drugs – according to potential medical uses.
Health Minister Varadkar said the following according to the Independent.
“It is still the case that the sale, supply, export or import of such substances remains illegal, even now today.”
The Health Minister introduced new legislation in an emergency session of the Dáil tonight, and if it passes, it will go to the Seanad (the Irish Senate) for signing.
However, according to Senator Jillian van Turnhout via Twitter, the Seanad will not handle the legislation until tomorrow, March 11. If the Seanad signs it tomorrow, the law will not take effect until Thursday at midnight at the earliest.
According to the BBC, the Health Minister said all of the drugs that are now legal carry risks and can lead to death.
If it is indeed the case that possession of such dangerous drugs will be legal for a minimum of 24 hours, and quite possibly 48 hours, how many more deaths can Ireland expect as a result?
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