As governments around the world begin to adopt liberal legislation on drug possession and ditch the failed war on drugs, Ireland has stumbled upon a unique approach.
Possession of magic mushrooms, ecstasy, ketamine, crystal methamphetamine, and a long list of other recreational drugs were temporarily made legal for a day in Ireland after the Court of Appeal ruled there was a loophole in existing legislation.
The March 10 court ruling stated that Irish governments had been unconstitutionally adding drugs to the list of substances controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. Oddly, the ruling meant that the original list of banned drugs—including cannabis, cocaine, and heroin—still remained illegal.
While possession was legalized, trafficking of the drugs remained illegal, as that falls under a different piece of legislation unaffected by the court ruling.
An emergency bill to prohibit the newly legalized drugs was passed quickly after the ruling. In a written statement, Irish Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the bill “will re-instate the status quo ante and re-control all drugs that were controlled prior to this judgment.”
The ruling came after an individual’s lawyer successfully argued that the methylethcathinone he was prosecuted for was illegally added to the banned substances list and that the decision to ban any specific drug should have been considered by parliament first.
The ruling casts doubt on almost 40 years of criminal prosecutions for possession of drugs that were deemed unconstitutionally added to the banned list.
The health minister made an attempt to quell any curiousity for experimentation, saying that the temporarily legalized drugs “all have very significant health risks that outweigh any perceived recreational benefits.” There is no indication if that warning was adhered to.