Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan said community drug and youth projects were struggling to cope with the “aggression” and “chaotic nature” of people consuming these tablets, often taking them with alcohol and other substances.
It comes as figures supplied to the Irish Examiner show that almost 400,000 illicit sedative drugs were seized in 2013 — a 150% jump on 2010 figures.
These include benzodiazepines, a group of tranquillisers, and so-called Z drugs, or hypnotics, like Zopiclone and Zimovane.
Health Protection Regulatory Authority figures show that 154,581 tablets were seized in 2010, rising to 165,843 in 2011, 291,167 in 2012, and 393,318 in 2013.
Plans by the Department of Health to tackle the illicit trade in these legitimate medicines were prepared by former drugs minister Róisín Shortall in September 2012, following consultations between the gardaí, customs officials, the HSE, and pharmacists. The projected date for completing the regulations was January 2013.
Ms O’Sullivan said the reality of the illicit tablet crisis was made clear to Mr Ó Ríordáin at a recent meeting of the Dublin North Inner City Local Drugs Task Force. “The scale of the problem was certainly brought home to the current minister,” she said.
“It was spelled out very forcibly by projects about the massive increase in tablets and he was told by gardaí how their hands are tied by the lack of legislation.”
Ms O’Sullivan, a TD in Dublin Central, said one mother told the meeting how teenagers could make up to €1,000 a week selling tablets and other drugs on the street. “Not all will make that, but some do, and that has a knock on effect on kids in the area,” she said.
She called for mini-CABs (Criminal Asset Bureaus) to target the local dealers who are showing off their wealth in front of young people.