The owner of a Letterkenny head shop upped sticks and transferred their operation across the border following the introduction of stricter laws regulating the sale of so-called legal highs in the Republic of Ireland.
Thats according to West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne who said schoolchildren ended up queueing down the street in their uniforms outside the Northern Ireland outlet before selling the items on to their schoolmates.
The SDLP MLA made the comments at Stormont during a debate on the problem of legal highs.
“We have asked for cooperation with the Government in the Republic. We need that sort of cooperation. In Omagh, we had the situation of a head shop that was owned by someone who also had a shop in Letterkenny,” he said.
“When the Letterkenny shop closed as a result of the legislation in the South, all the sales were coming through the Omagh shop. We had a situation where students would be queueing up in the evening to buy some of these legal highs in their uniforms, and they were also able to resell them to their classmates and friends.
“Again, the authorities were slow to recognise the plight and the difficulty that that was posing for parents and teachers.
“These drugs do, to some degree, also fall under the remit of the Medicines Act 1968, which makes it illegal to sell, supply or advertise them for human consumption. Manufacturers and sellers have been able to manipulate the market to the detriment of our young people.
“All they need to do is label the package with the disclaimer, ‘Not fit for human consumption’. The Minister referred to the fact that these drugs are not fit for human consumption.
“The problem is that young people will often take things that are not fit for human consumption if it gives them this high experience.
“However, the high experience is so high that it causes mental damage. Many Members have referred to the fact that we have major mental health problems as a result of the use of these illegal substances. It is causing massive pain.”
At Thursday’s meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor Elisha McCallion said there were no more headshops operating in the Londonderry and Strabane area. She was speaking after the issue of tackling legal highs was raised.
DUP Councillor Graham Warke said: “These legal highs are so easy to get now for young people on the internet and they will have it next day delivery.”