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HEAD HUNT; Call for ban on shops that sell pep pills over counter.

Byline: By NIALL DONALD

SHOPS which sell mind-bending drugs as safe alternatives to cocaine and Ecstasy should be banned, it was claimed last night.

Pep pills are for sale legally in high-street stores - known throughout the country as 'head shops' by clubbers looking for a safer natural high.

But Irish drug expert Dr Thomas Connor claimed pep pills are extremely dangerous.

He said: "They are being sold over the counter as a legal alternative to cocaine and Ecstasy which is totally safe.

"But evidence shows these agents can cause serious side-effects."

Dr Connor said the drugs have been banned in other countries because they are so dangerous. He said: "Studies show people using these drugs end up in A&E wards with adverse effects like anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations nausea and vomiting.

"A number of users have also had more serious problems including seizures similar to an epileptic fit.

"These drugs work on the same part of the brain as cocaine and Ecstasy - and they are not safe."

The mind-blowing drugs cost around EUR6 per pill in head shops in Dublin.

These controversial shops also stock marijuana seed, herbal ecstasy, and drug smoking paraphernalia.

Dublin Fianna Fail councillor Cormac Devlin is calling on the Government to stop head shops selling pep pills.

He said: "A list of scheduled substances is kept under review then it might be time to looking at banning these shops.

"A young man in Bray gouged his eye out with a pair of pliers - and these pep pills could cause the same type of reaction."

Last night, a Department of Health spokesman said there was no plans to ban pep pills.

He said: "A legal loophole exists that allows these drugs to be sold in shops. But if these head shops are selling these drugs, on an ongoing basis.

"Substances may be scheduled if there is evidence that the substances are being misused and are causing significant harm to public health."

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Call... Cllr Cormac Devlin
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2006
Words:331
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