Ireland just accidentally legalised ecstasy, ketamine and magic mushrooms

Emergency legislation will be rushed through tonight

For the next 24 hours, a host of Class A drugs are legal (or else in a legal quandary) in Ireland due to an accidental loophole in drug laws.

The Dáil will sit tonight to pass emergency legislation after the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act was found unconstitutional by the Irish Court of Appeal this morning, making the drugs it prohibits (technically) legal.

The bill will be rushed through but comes with a provision that states it can only take effect on the day after its signature, placing Ireland in a very grey area with regards to the legality of drugs including ecstasy, ketamine and magic mushrooms until midnight on Thursday.

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'.

However, according to The Journal, the act has also been used to outlaw the possession of ketamine, magic mushrooms and other drugs.

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 while the government prevents widespread drug-addled pandemonium.

"We had no way of knowing what the Court would decide today, but we prepared for this possibility," Varadkar said. "Legislation was prepared and approved in advance by Cabinet. 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."

The ruling could throw many past convictions into question.

"I'm told it's dozens," the minister added. "But I can't say for certain because what they'll have to do now is go thought each individual case and see if the people in question were charged just under this section of the act, or if they were charged with other acts as well."

Update: Varadkar has suggested that supply and sale of controlled drugs remains illegal, though it is not clear what legislation he is basing this on.

Update 2: Quite separately, the Irish government might have also accidentally managed to outlaw heterosexual marriage today.

@christophhooton

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2015

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