A call for some sensible debate about head shops and legal highs

Protest outside Dail Eireann calling for the ban of legal highs

"Say you want it banned or I'll blow your fucking head off, you stupid hippy

Head shops, head shops, head shops. The scourge of Irish society, these demons are going to take away our kids, turn them into gurning muppets, and eventually see their brains bilge out their ears something akin to what the earworm did to some hapless idiot on Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn. Yes, these unregulated drugs are more evil than the catholic church, global recession, public sector strikes and the war on terror combined. Hell, they are the war of terror. It won’t be long before 87% of our budget will be spent arming the army (because, you know, two planes and 63 machine guns doesn’t really constitute an army), so that these scumbags can be annihilated. In the mean time we have the good and true fighting for our children. With Joe Duffy leading the charge of old biddies, and major criminals making the most out of legal petrol and empty Miller bottles, our streets are safe. For now.

Liveline presenter

Joey the Hut - Slug like creature that listens to moaners from beneath his rock

There has been a slew of protest marches, Castlebar, Clontarf, Ennis, Newbridge, Roscommon, the list just goes on. It seems that call to Senor Duffy has caused people with very little to do to come out of the woodwork and start shouting at passers-by that their kids are in mortal danger. If you said these people are on drugs it wouldn’t be hard to believe. But just as Facebook campaigns are dominating modern consensus, so is Joe. The ranting public on his show have firmly put head shops in the sights, which is going to lead to a bigger comedown than speckled Mitsubishi’s. Now with bigger groups like Europe Against Drugs (EURAD) getting involved, the debate can only go one way, down.

All groups involved vehemently believe that head shops will be the death of modern life. They argue the cases  against legal highs without ever taking into consideration the problems caused by an outright ban. They refuse to see any arguments for their legalisation, and use the same one-sided plea’s, no make that shouts, to see every head shop owner in the country castrated, set on fire and finally crucified in a huge public witch hunt. The point they are missing is that when these shops go underground it will be a very different sort of management running them.

When Nirvana head shop was burnt down on Capel Street, €500,000 was found in the safe. A huge wad of dough. Another was reported to be paying €70,000 a month in tax. €70,000? Now that’s a lot of money. Ireland’s gangland union have noticed this a long time ago. But instead of marching down O’Connell Street about their loss of earnings, they took the more pro-active approach of burning down their competitions businesses (allegedly, it could always have been Joe Duffy and a couple of disgruntled listeners on the way home from the boozer after downing several litres of that good drug). What does this say about the selling of legal highs? There’s a heck of a lot of money in it, and some one is going to make it, laws or no laws.

According to that wonderful ray of media, The Sun, drug dealers are buying up huge quantities of legal highs while they are still allowed. It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to work out what that spells. Once the doors are closed of the local head shop, you’ll be buying your highs from Deco behind a chipper in some dodgy estate. That means your money is going to fund some more guns so these guys can blow the faces off each other in order to keep selling more illegal drugs that were once legal, and were once paying for public projects through tax revenue. It also doesn’t take a genius to work out the benefits of having this stream of cash coming into our shit economy. €70,000 a month from one head shop  works out €840,000 a year. If each county had one shop that would equate to €21,840,000 to the exchequer. And that’s only at a 21% tax rate. A rate of 50% would put this figure over €50,000,000. Of course these are just rough estimates, but the point is simple. Either we use this money to benefit our country. Or we let drug dealers take it. What drug dealers take would be closer to €100,000,000, because they take gross profits with no tax. For some reason they can’t be bothered to pay tax. Go figure.

What will happen if we don't ban head shops

Please sir, can I have some more? Drugs.

One main argument of the naysayers is that in the future the people who are now munching on their bottom lip on a Saturday night from the effects of legal highs, will still be munching in the future because of the long-term effects of the drugs. What people fail to realise is that a vast amount of our population aged between 30 and 40 were necking shitloads of illegal bangers during the Nineties and early Noughties. Many of them were doing it in the Olympic Ballroom which was owned by the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds. Speed, coke and pills were the norm for that generation, and now these people are in positions of power. Now they run companies, medicate people, plan towns. The adverse effects of their drug taking hasn’t stopped their ambitions, and hasn’t turned the country into a bunch of drooling idiots that need constant supervision so they don’t shit all the deli counter in their local Mace. People from the Sixties took more acid than fell in the rain of a few decades ago (where did that rain go, incidentally?). It all serves to make the argument for closing the shops weaker.

Of course shouting and barking by people will always win, and public hysteria always makes more sense than intelligent debate. Why look at the problems surrounding the banning of it when you can just make up your mind based on a radio show. One which gives credence to the common man over specialists who have years of education behind them. What would they know? They don’t know me, or Ireland. I don’t trust educated people, the smug bastards. But, as always, what people don’t know they fear, so it will be banned. By June we should see the sale of these products ended by the Gardai,

June 26th is World Drugs Day, a day in which we discuss the shame of drugs. Maybe its time to stock up, and turn it into the biggest mashfest this country has ever seen.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. A reasonable argument. I have to say that Jim McDaid had a fair point but the tabloid like Joe Duffy opinion is that an outright ban will save society. I know thar family of someone who died as a result of consuming a product purchased in a head shop.

    His reaction which caused his death could have happened with illegal drugs or “legal” highs. The question his family ask however is whether or not he would have consumed the product if not so freely available. They will never know the answer.

    My argument for removing legal highs from the main street of towns and cities is you remove accessibility. I do accept that this sends it underground to the criminals.

    Reply

    • As with all legal drugs, penicillin, aspirin, etc, there is regulation to provide its users with the risks and side effects of said drugs. They are rigorously tested and proven safe for the vast majority of users. I am very sorry for the families loss, but if people were allowed to make a safer choice using clinically tests highs, wouldn’t it be safer for everyone? Drugs will always be available. Knowing what they contain won’t. Without a new approach we will be doomed to repeat mistakes.

      Reply

  2. Dave me and Soeren have this conversation all the time. I completely agree with you and on the legalisation and control of all drugs. The war on drugs will never be won because there’s a market and when there’s a market there is always money to be made. When there’s money to be made people will make it. And on another note, just making drugs illegal has never stopped people taking drugs in the past. Ridiculous. Good article.

    Reply

    • Couldn’t agree more Kathy. The problem is never solved by brushing it under the carpet. Heavy regulation and high costs can be a far more effective tool than an all out ban in stopping people taking it. Thanks!

      Reply

  3. Posted by Peter on April 24, 2010 at 1:56 am

    Some good points made there Dave, if I were to try and write something about head shops it’d look a lot like that

    Reply

  4. Champion of rationality. Nice 1 Dave.

    Reply

  5. Posted by The bould Ellis on April 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I too agree with the above sentiments. I was going to write an article on the media hype surrounding the headshop debate but decided that I should first do some in depth research. 14 bags of Charge later I was exchanging phone numbers with my new best friend Anto, who has been homeless for 2 years now but who really understood me, danced for 12 hours in various houseparties whilst screaming how happy I was at the top of my voice before lying in my bed for the next two days sweating and waiting for my heart to stop beating. A week later after the paranoia became manageable I decided to write my article but realised that the drugs had destroyed the left side of my brain. Point being, it is my brain and I can do what I like with it and don’t need people to tell me what I can and can not do to my own frontal lobes. So yeah, don’t take drugs kids, but if you do, get them from your friendly local headshop instead of the sham standing behind Londis with a bag of bleach.

    Reply

  6. Nice to see someone else getting a chance to air some different views. It’s the usual minority speaking for the majority, same old shite! Well done.

    Reply

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