Despite Ireland`s ban on legal drugs with a high alcohol content, two young men recently died on an estate in Monaghan after using synthetic cannabis. Drugs.ie. (2017). Legal tops and head stores. [online] Available at: www.drugs.ie/resourcesfiles/guides/Legal_highs_%26_headshops_leaflet.pdf Stanislav Bederev took legal action to the Supreme Court in Dublin to stop his trial, with his legal team arguing that methylethcathinone was illegally listed because there had been no consultation with the Irish Parliament to amend the law – which they considered unconstitutional. Read more: Discover amazing artwork from thousands of pills and read our highlight of the rave week The A-Z Of Rave. But it`s the owners of so-called „headshops” who have really capitalized on the drug market in recent months. There are about 20 of these stores that sell a variety of legal highs across the country. Several online websites that sell legal drugs online have also seen a considerable increase in sales from Irish customers. The drugs were reportedly legally purchased in Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. However, drug and community workers in the rural communities of Monaghan and Cavan have discovered a loophole in the legislation that could have implications for the UK`s proposals. They are grappling with the effects caused by a seemingly highly addictive new NPS called A Clockwork Orange, or The Joker, a synthetic cannabinoid that mimics cannabis.
It causes serious psychiatric problems and has been implicated in two deaths, including one suicide, at the Mullaghmatt estate in Monaghan. Until now, it was not possible to effectively ban „legal highs” in the UK, as the law required a substance to first be defined by its chemical structure before a ban could be imposed. This provided a loophole for „black market chemists” who responded by making minor but significant changes to the chemical structure of a substance to create a „new” drug that was not banned. For example, when mephedrone became illegal in 2010, it led to the „cycle of new (legal) products that appear almost immediately after such a product is banned.” The Sunday Tribune recently ordered 2g of white powder from a UK website. He arrived in a matter of days. Including shipping costs. The legal drug costs only €25.20. For comparison: a gram of cocaine costs between 60 and 80 euros. Many legal highs can have irreversible long-term effects on users. The use of solvents, for example, can be life-threatening on first use, causing heart abnormalities or sudden loss of consciousness, but regular use also has long-term effects such as damage to the brain, kidneys and liver.
As with illicit drugs, legal highs can exacerbate persistent mental health problems in users. People with illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia are particularly at risk. (Drugs.ie, 2017) The mother of teenager Adam Owens, who died last April after legal highs, welcomed the ban, while Roberts expressed skepticism about the Eurobarometer survey, which is based on a sample of just 500. But he said: „Undoubtedly, the prevalence of these substances would have been higher if the ban had not been introduced. The illegal market continues, but it is a much more marginal industry than the multi-million dollar headshop industry. Some are starting to use these legal highs because they think they are a less dangerous alternative to typical street drugs, but this is a misconception. In many cases, legal highs are just as harmful and addictive as illegal drugs, if not more so. The meeting became angry after the local police chief said that despite the blanket ban on psychoactive drugs, A Clockwork Orange was legal and there was little its officers could do to stop it. [BBC News Online] Legal Highs: Irish ban on headshop industry `wiped out`. (June 15, 2015) New laws introducing a general ban on the sale, production, distribution and supply of legal highs have now come into force across the UK. The Psychoactive Substances Act aims to close a loophole that has allowed legal manufacturers to thrive by banning all psychoactive substances. All previously legal highs, including nitrous oxide, are now considered illegal, except for those with „specific exceptions” such as food, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and medical products.
However, the new law must not completely fail in its goal of promoting abstinence from legal highs. Research conducted in New Zealand – where a number of legal highs were banned in 2014 – shows that the legal status of drugs is seen by some users as an indication of the drug`s „relative safety” and „social acceptance”. For large legal users in the UK who think so, there is a chance that the new law will actually work. Two recent reports from the Home Office and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction indicate that prohibition in Ireland has led users to illegal street markets and the dark web. Drug workers are concerned that users will turn to heroin and prescription drugs instead. The ban on „legal highs” in the Republic of Ireland has been extraordinarily effective in wiping out the industry, police said.