In Committee on Finance. - Dangerous Drugs Bill, 1933—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Attorney-General

Deputies will be aware that the illicit traffic in dangerous drugs has become a very serious problem in many countries. So far, however, the question has not become acute in the Saorstát. Such misuse of narcotics as has come to the notice of the Department of Justice is by persons who cannot well be prevented from having access to such drugs, and the drugs used by them are imported and distributed in the ordinary course of trade.

It is fairly safe to say that no smuggling of drugs, at any rate in quantities, has taken place. Medical Deputies will no doubt be able to corroborate this. One of the chief obstacles to suppressing illicit traffic in countries in which such traffic was prevalent was the fact that certain manufacturing countries permitted the export of drugs such as morphine and heroin practically without control or restriction. Quantities of these drugs far in excess of the medicinal requirements of the world were being produced and exported. Accordingly at a Convention signed at Geneva in 1931, it was agreed between the parties that steps would be taken for the limitation of the manufacture of these drugs. It is clear that if the Convention succeeds in its object, and only the quantities of narcotics necessary for legitimate purposes are produced, a very heavy blow will have been dealt to the illicit traffic.

The present Bill confers the powers necessary to carry out the obligations imposed by the Convention of 1931 to which the Saorstát recently acceded. It incorporates the existing law which is contained in the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1920, together with the additional sections necessitated by the accession to the Convention and some minor provisions in accordance with the Convention of 1925 to which the Saorstát is a party. The Bill is of its nature extremely technical, and several of the drugs mentioned therein are practically unknown in the Saorstát. It is, however, necessary in order to conform to the Convention to include in the Bill sections relating to these drugs.

So far as I understand from the Attorney-General's opening statement, this is a Bill which is carrying out an international agreement but there is really no necessity or need for the Bill so far as the condition of this State is concerned. I rather gather that from the Attorney-General's opening statement and I believe from any knowledge I have acquired of that particular subject myself and of the existing legislation on the subject that that is so. As a matter of fact, I think it is actually a fact that there are no wholesalers of these particular drugs in this State and that any quantity of these dangerous drugs which is required legitimately by medical men in this country for the practice of their profession has got to be imported. In the circumstances, I am sure we are all very glad that it is a Bill which is not promoted out of necessity or from anything serious in the condition of this country but that it is simply being promoted to carry out international arrangements and as such it has naturally got the support of this side of the House.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 29th November.