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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Fahey calls for outright ban on head shops

    An outright ban on the operation of head shops and their products should be given serious consideration, that is according to Galway West Fianna Fail TD Frank Fahey.

    Deputy Fahey confirmed this week that he has written to the Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern TD urging him to consider the concerns raised by parents and health professionals and to take action.

    “Concerns have been raised with me by parents and health professions about the long term effect that the products sold in these shops can have. Medical professionals in Galway have told me that they are now treating a growing number of patients who have suffered side effects and long term effects from taking products sold in these shops.

    “It is very possible that use of these so called 'legal highs’ can irreparably damage a person’s mental health and this is not something that we can or should ignore. Parents have spoken to me about their concern that young people can experience psychological problems after taking the products and how this in turn can have a detrimental effect to their general wellbeing.

    “The issue of these types of shops is causing concern across Europe and no EU Member State has come up with a comprehensive response so far, but I am calling on Minister Ahern to take action and to give leadership on this issue on a European level.”

    Deputy Fahey acknowledged that the activities of head shops are closely monitored by the gardai and last year almost 30 of them underwent searches that resulted in some products being seized. He said that steps have also been taken to ban some of the products such as the ‘magic mushrooms’ and BZP. However, Deputy Fahey is concerned that most of the ‘legal highs’ are not currently listed as controlled substances and there is no authority under the Misuse of Drugs legislation to prevent their sale.

    “We cannot let this issue drift. People using these products may very well suffer health problems in the long term and they will then be adding to the demand on our health services.

    “We led the way in Europe, and indeed the world, with our smoking ban and I believe we should also give leadership on this important issue,” said Dep Fahey.

    By Martina Nee



  1. akack2
    The people who abandon the aged,disabled and poor.The people who ignored the banks lending to developers and irresponsible lending to people to buy from developers.The people who are now protecting the developers and banks with NAMA.The people who ignored the raping and murder of children by the Catholic church.The people with higher wages than the Obama administration.The people who allowed an apartheid system in the north for years.The people who have done nothing about the drug abuse in Ireland once its confined to the working classes.
    Yes the people who did all that suddenly give a fuck about people suffering from substance abuse issues.Why?Because its rich kids parents in their ears thats why.
    Fianna Fail-The Republican Party-My Fuckin Arse.
  2. akack2
    Also what this excuse for an Irishman doesnt discuss is how in the hell you would enforce that law,any head shop could just describe itself differently,perhaps as an Aromatherapy Shop for instance and continue selling.

    Therefore the twat hasnt even thought this through or else (and this is what I believe to be true) he is simply making sure the rich constituents see that he is doing something about the shops and he has no real interest in the matter.
  3. Nature Boy

    Indeed. Just take down that offensive sign that says "head shop" and replace it with something friendlier and breezier like "alternative lifestyle store" or "mind, body & soul workshop". As for the actual drugs themselves, I'd love to see them try and trowel through the near endless list of research chemicals that fall under no legal status whatsoever. They don't have the scientific knowhow to perform such a task. What the fuck do solicitors and former GAA-playing alcoholics know about the likes of Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, Dimethocaine, 5-MEO-DMT etc.
  4. chillinwill
    We need our head shops examined

    IT'S TIME to be frank.

    When it comes to Ireland's notoriously and dangerously overcrowded hospital Emergency Departments (EDs), the normal

    culprits (ie shortages of beds, staff and space) no longer really wash with those of us who labour long and hard therein and who despair of the daily vista of trolleys as far as the eye can see. Why?

    Well because most of the people who end up in the ED are there because of the choices they have made either in the short term or over a lifetime.

    Obviously these include smoking, drinking, and sitting on the sofa in perpetuity.

    But more recently, such choices have extended - vividly – to going out into the weather utterly unprepared, driving at speed on icy and foggy roads and skating on thin and thick ice.

    And now, just as the message about the weather's hazards begins to penetrate nationally, we are faced with yet another - this time, entirely man-made – lifestyle development that is piling intense pressure on the healthcare frontline.

    The latest choice to cause medical misery is that of "head shop highs" - hits produced by "organic" leaves and seeds like Salvia divinorum, and synthetic cocaine powders, like Snow Blow, XXX and Charge.

    Just last weekend, for instance, at the Mercy University Hospital, based in Cork's city centre, five patients were brought to the ED due to adverse reactions to the kind of drugs mentioned - four arriving by ambulance.

    But take the torrent of injuries caused by the ice - 18 serious fractures were treated last Monday at MUH, and the orthopaedic workload at Cork University Hospital (CUH) for the past 10 days or so has reached roughly seven times the average - add in a surge of elderly winter illnesses and subtract the considerable number of hospital beds lost to cutbacks, and the last thing we need is a new "epidemic" of drug-illness, layered upon that already created by tobacco, alcohol, heroin and cocaine.

    Unhappily, in the past few months, we have seen a relentless rise in the number of seriously distressed young adults and teenagers being hospitalised due to "head shop highs" with panic, paranoia, delirium, psychosis and chest pain.

    These cases are utterly avoidable and are nearly always associated with the consumption of other intoxicants like alcohol, despite the trumpeting of head shop highs as "alternatives" to alcohol and illegal drugs.

    And because nobody has any idea what is contained in the leaves, seeds, powders and pills that Ireland's 100-plus head shops are purveying, there is enormous added difficulty in treating and diagnosing these young people.

    I reckon that local head shops customers in Cork have cost the MUH alone thousands of euro this year in emergency healthcare.

    Moreover, last month, I had to deal with a particularly sinister episode when three young women (average age 21) were admitted simultaneously to the hospital after what I believe was the spiking of their drinks with head shop hallucinogenic powders.

    The results were devastating in terms of the patients' mental health and

    I feared the implications for their future psychological well-being. One of the patients took three days to stop "tripping", so you can imagine the burden on the staff and family.

    Meanwhile, head shop owners - despicably and disingenuously in my view - maintain that their shops offer "alternative highs" that are "legal" and which somehow detract from the activities of gangsters and the resulting criminality.

    However, in my opinion, as with the sale of all drugs, head shops exist to make money - pure and simple (unlike their products). In fact, their promotion of "highs" (ie euphoric intoxication) merely adds to the population's general appetite for drugs of all sorts, so illegal dealers will be delighted as so-called "soft drugs" soften up another cohort of impressionable youngsters for the hard drugs market.

    Head shop products remaintechnically legal because they cannot be generically prohibited. For example: the molecular formula for cocaine is C17H21NO4, and the law stipulates, pedantically, that this particular drug formula is illegal, then it is possible to render the product technically legal, just by "tweaking" the compound so that there is an extra carbon (C) or hydrogen (H) atom. (This is a simplistic idea, for the sake of argument).

    So, to continue this basic line, "artificial cocaine" sold by head shops, with euphoric effects and stimulation similar to that bestowed by natural cocaine, but with a different trade name and a slightly different formula (for argument's sake, C18H22NO4) may be legal because it can be argued that it is technically a different, legally distinct and therefore not a specified drug.

    Speculation that head shops somehow promote social cohesion, provide legal highs and detract from the criminal business of illegal drug dealing is just that.

    There is no evidence that adding head shop highs to the already boiling broth of drug and alcohol consumption will do anything other than create a new layer of illness, public health and social problems and a major new source of worry and work for health service staff.

    The evidence of that is certainly clear, starting with the dozen or so cases we have seen in the Mercy in just the past six months or so.

    So what would be my solution to the head shop problem?

    Well, I accept that it would be alegal and policing nightmare to pursue each new compound as it emerges, from laboratories in China and Eastern Europe, and is then imported for sale by the network of head shops.

    Consequently, given the increasingly self-evident hazards to health associated with the products that head shops sell and, given that many of their products come in packets which specifically state "not for human consumption" (by way of a car-park style disclaimer), I suspect the way to curtail the activities of head shops is by means of an Al Capone strategy.

    So, just as the infamous gangster long evaded criminal prosecution and was eventually brought low by prosecution for tax evasion, I think head shops should be subjected to the rigours of existing health and safety, trade description, insurance and commercial regulation.

    If they are as legal and community-spirited as they profess, they will surely pass such scrutiny with flying colours. But I would have high hopes that they don't.

    By Dr Chris Luke
    January 18, 2010
    Irish Examiner
  5. chillinwill
    Head shops now a ‘front door’ for selling drugs – Buttimer

    Speaking in the Seanad in support of an all-party motion to tackle the proliferation of head shops in Ireland, Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Drugs, Senator Jerry Buttimer said:

    “The explosion in the number of head shops that have sprung up in our towns and villages has to be dealt with as theses establishments, which are nothing more than a ‘front door’ for selling drugs, pose an inordinate risk, most notably to our young people.

    “It is estimated that the number of head shops in Ireland is now nearing 100. In an attempt to address this burning issue, Fine Gael in the Seanad has tabled a motion (see below) and is in support of an all-party committee and legislation to tackle the issue head-on. In the Dáil Fine Gael has called for cross-party support for legislation to regulate the growing number of head shops.

    “With head shops, we have the unregulated selling of drugs, with our young people in particular, being targeted. Families are being destroyed, the mental health of our young people is being severely impacted and lives are being shattered. How long must wait until legislation is enacted to deal with this matter? Head shops are drug dealers by another name who are laughing in the face of a State that stands idly by permitting their existence.

    “While action was taken to outlaw the sale of the recreational drug BZP (benzylpiperazine) or ‘legal e’ last year, new mind-altering substances such as Mephedrone have made their way to the Irish market. This substance has already been banned in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Israel and Sweden where a teenager died after taking the drug.

    “There is no doubt that if this substance is also banned in Ireland, as it should be, it won’t be long before another equally harmful substance takes it place. Cross party co-operation is needed to address this critical issue. Fine Gael has called for head shops to be subject to specification regulation and for planning law to play a more rigorous role when dealing with these premises. We do not tolerate drug dealers selling mind-altering substances openly on our streets. Why are we tolerating head shops doing the same?”

    January 28, 2010
    Jerry Buttimer
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