254. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of seizures and arrests made since the enactment of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5638/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2016 introduced controls by way of Regulations on a number of new psychoactive substances, certain pharmaceutical drugs and some other substances which are required to be controlled on foot of EC Decision 2005/387/JHA.
One of the most significant effects of new Regulations made under the Act which came into force on 4 May 2017, relates to Benzodiazepines such as Diazepam (Valium), Alprazolam (Xanax) etc. Under the Regulations, restrictions in place in relation to the possession of controlled drugs now apply to these medicines. This is also the case for “Z Drugs” such as Zopiclone (Zimovane), Zolpidem (Stilnoct) and Zaleplon (Sonata) meaning that it is now an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 to 2016 to be in possession of these substances, even in amounts for personal use, without a valid prescription in accordance with the Act.
I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that their records indicate 189 incidents linked to benzodiazepines recorded in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) with proceedings commenced in 133. Outside the DMR, there were 83 incidents with proceedings commenced in 51. The statistics are provided by the Garda Síochána Analysis Services from an interrogation of PULSE and are operational, provisional, subject to change and are valid to 1st February, 2018.