Press Release

Minister for Health and Children announces ban on stimulant drug, BZP

The Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney TD, announced today (Tuesday 31 March) that 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) has now been declared a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 and that its possession or sale is now a criminal offence.

BZP is a relatively new synthetic psychotropic (mood affecting) substance which has been sold as ecstasy under the street name of ‘Legal E’, ‘Legal X’ ‘XTC’, ‘A2’, ‘piperazine’, or ‘party pills’. In Ireland, party pills containing BZP have been widely sold in ‘head shops’.

The Minister said it had been a source of great concern that a drug, originally developed to kill animal parasites, was being used as a recreational substance. Furthermore, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) conducted a risk assessment of BZP in 2007 and found that the use of BZP can lead to various medical problems even if the long term effects of the substance are still unknown. The report of the risk assessment concluded that due to its stimulant properties, risk to health and the lack of medical benefits, there was a need to control it. Against this background the European Council decided in March 2008 that BZP should be defined as a new psychoactive substance which was to be made subject to control measures and criminal provisions.

The Minister stated “Following a Government Decision today, I have signed the Statutory Instrument required to give effect to the Council’s decision to subject BZP to control measures and criminal sanctions. This will now make the possession of BZP illegal and make sure that BZP is no longer available for sale in ‘head shops’ around the country, which has been an issue of concern to my Department and the wider public.”

The report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction can be viewed at the EMCDDA’s website http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/.