Calls for the regulation of head shops and the banning of legal highs.

There is increasing concern about the sale of highly potent, synthetic drugs known as legal highs available in head shops. 

They're totally legal. Head Shops who specialise in drug paraphernalia and alternative lifestyle material.

One such legal high called Spice Gold is described as containing an active ingredient in marijuana, which is very potent at low doses. Spice Gold has already been banned in the US, the UK, and several European countries. However, it is available legally in Ireland. 

It is estimated that there are about a hundred head shops scattered throughout the country. Concerned parents and medical specialists say that regulation of this sector is long overdue. 

Among those calling for action is the family of Colm Hodkinson who died 5 years ago after having an adverse reaction to magic mushrooms bought in a head store. Seán Hodkinson describes the effect that the drugs had on his brother and how it lead to his tragic death. 

Drug treatment centres and hospital emergency departments say that they are seeing increased numbers of young people experiencing adverse reactions to these legal highs. 

Austin Prior, Deputy Director at the Rutland Centre describes the dangers of selling these products over the counter. 

I'm hearing of people having psychotic episodes after smoking some of this stuff or taking some it. It's highly dangerous and highly addictive.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 January 2010. The reporter is Adrian Lydon.