Thursday, 18 February 2010

Head for the pills! "Head shops" burnt out by concerned criminals.

There’s been a lot of lurid publicity in the tabs lately about Dublin’s head shops.  Head shops sell “legal highs”, it seems.  Stuff that might fit the “naughty, naughty, naughty” description of the Shamen’s 90’s hit Ebeneezer Goode. But not quite as naughty, or as good (I imagine).

In fact, they sell a lot of cannabis smoking paraphernalia – pipes, and the like - but not the actual cannabis. They also purvey incense and bath salts, with names like “Flake”, “Charlie” (I’m sure it’s not), and “Snow”.

As keen horticulturalists obviously frequent head shops, they do a nice line in “plant foods”. The Nirvana shop advertises one of its “legal highs” thus: “mint mania are [sic] a very popular plant feeder. For best results, make sure your plants have plenty of fluid, and keep them away from heavy machinery”.

I know a lot of new-agers are in an apparently vegetative state much of the time, but it’s still  a funny way to refer to your clientele. Despite that, head shops seem to be blooming, with “one a week” opening in Ireland last month, according to Wiki.  I make that four.

Whatever about all the above, I suppose the real issue is the unregulated nature of their wares, and the ingredients that make up the “highs”. I suppose Guinness and Jameson’s have to tell us what’s in their products, and are subject to licencing, so there is some argument there.  On the other hand, I don’t know if these products actually “work”, or if they are more likely to contain saccharine than strychnine?

No such ambiguity, of course, with the illegal drugs trade, which is the most dangerous and unregulated of all, and whose products are "cut" with all manner of deadly ingredients, including rat poison.   I’m not aware of anyone dying after a “trip” to a head shop, but am aware of many who died from street drugs.  And alcohol abuse, come to that.

Now, in the space of a week, and on foot of hysterical tabloid alarmism and concentrated coverage on Joe Duffy's Liveline (what kind of person has the time to listen to Joe Duffy's programme? They can't work, anyway) two Dublin head shops have been set alight. There is speculation that the arson attacks may have been carried out by:

A) Citizens of the north inner city concerned about their children’s welfare and moral well-being,  or  B) Local criminal drug dealers concerned about a threat to their trade.

I think a walk around the north inner city or a visit to the Children’s Court can dispel theory “A”, so we are left to conclude that theory “B” might be the most likely explanation.

If so, we can expect more of the same - as if any group is truly above the law in Dublin, it’s the criminal drug-dealing fraternity.

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Anna said...

Hollywood stars Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson BOTH said in recent years they were shocked and saddened by the no’s of drunk, vomiting and Very young people on Dublin streets- they never saw that 20 yrs ago.
With a drinking epidemic, (and a drugs problem that one seasoned nurse working in a clinic near the city centre, told me was Proportionally worse than London) do we need Head shops?
These products are legal ONLY because they haven’t YET been banned, And you DO read of people becoming very ill, ending up in A&E, almost flat- lining , here and in the UK, because of these products.. We can hardly cope with the addiction problems we already have. I did read a psychiatrist who said at the heart of every addiction is depression. / low self esteem. Were we then a more capable, more optimistic, even more confident nation (albeit poorer) 30 yrs ago when Ireland had the Lowest* rate of alcohol consumption in Europe? (* Thanks to teetotal organisations springing up over 150 yrs ago, to relieve the wretched alcoholism of the working class, prevalent then across Ireland and the UK- I wouldn’t be 1 bit surprised if these organisation flourish again, hopefully without the religion)
But Yes it is SHOCKING - and very much a sign of the times, that the only concerned citizens who do any thing about the Head shops are the illegal drug dealers.
All this in an EU capital city.

Anonymous said...

Anna, the association between depression and alcoholism (as you rightly said) is clear. In my opinion depression was always Irelands real epidemic.

Now with the change in economic fortunes another facet has been added to the "mix" namely meaninglessness. There is a generation of individuals - steeped in celebrity culture - now, who only see self worth through material possessions. Its scary. What will it be like in 10 years when this capitalism on steroids has grown to include the developing economies?

As for illegal drugs, I cant stand them. As for these legal highs, they were obviously only legal as no one took the time to ban them. Disgraceful. Anything that creates an atmosphere which adds legitimacy to this trade doesnt help.

Though - as you said Anna - what type of country is it, that has criminals as concerned citizens. If its true I never thought I'd see the day!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Personally Ive smocked the stuff they sell, there's a certain product called "Smoke XXXX" one up from "Smoke XXX" ive spent most of my childhood stoned...Now im older ive quite all that stuff but with the odd weekend ive smoked the Smoke XXX and i gotta say, it gives the desired affect, i found everything funny and i relaxed alot!...Tho i will say the aftermath (Next morning) is much like a hangover but worse minus the head aches, after a night off smoking this stuff you are nearly unable to talk to anybody lol...personally when i spoke my words came out all over the place E.G - Forgetting words in sentences, saying words in the wrong order when speaking...Now that Smoke XXXX stuff is defo DEFO dipped in some sort of acid or something, the stuff is wacky was foook....Im an experienced stoner (Whatever that means, i mean ive spendt alot of time stoned lol)But by god i dont think id go near that stuff does the head no justice...

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anna and Dakota. I fully appreciate your concerns, and it's very true - there are quite enough people going around spaced out of their heads in Dublin as it is.

As I say, my biggest concern is that you don't know what's in these things - so you don't know what it's going do to you now or further down the line. At least that's the impression I have.

@ Anon. I've never been in a head shop - and I'm too old for that type of thing now, though I've have experienced symptoms you describe after "one bad pint" too many, on occasion... though not as much now as in my younger days. Or at least not as often.

Many years ago, I did take a few acid tabs out of curiosity (when I was working in London) and I have to say, it was one of the worst experiences I ever had. If you drink too much you'll just fall asleep in the end, but I was wide awake for hours, thinking I was going to exit the mortal coil, and thought it would never wear off.

Never again (and I meant it!! Never did do it again!)

Harry said...

By banning the stuff it would only be thrown in illegality. Sure, maybe you can deter some curious youth from trying (if there are any left), but who wants it will get it.

I don't say the stuff isn't dangerous. Far from that, especially if the stuff isn't classified. But nobody knows what you get in underground, as you stated. Keep it legal but keep an eye or two on it.

Anonymous said...

ditto on the acid GM. Don't think I really enjoyed wandering up the canal at four in the morning trying to avoid being captured by the gnarly old winter trees that run alongside it. Ah well - nice to have got that shit out of the way all those years ago. Now where did I leave my glass of Pinot . Pinotboy (ha ha)

Bernd said...

The only thing that fascinates me in the end (apart from Joe Costello throwing shapes) is ...

... who would keep € 500,000 in a safe in that barrack in that area of Dublin?

Anonymous said...

Maybe they dont trust the banks LOL....LOL.........


Rugger said...

Hiya GM (see, problem solved, it was entirely's fault - not your's or mine) !

I think a walk around the north inner city or a visit to the Children’s Court can dispel theory “A”, so we are left to conclude that theory “B” might be the most likely explanation.

I beg to differ. Why would the local drug-dealing fraternity want to blow up shops which aren't competitors in their field ? They are "headshops", not Dutch style "coffeeshops".

If I were a member of this "fraternity", I couldn't care less about headshops. Quite the opposite actually, as they sell all the stuff the customer needs to consume my product (stuff I no longer have to worry about and which doesn't bring the big money either).

Unless the "headshop" is the legal front office for illegal activities (drug dealing) in the back office.

So, I do not think that option "A" is that far off the mark. Why not citizens of the north inner city concerned about their children’s welfare and moral well-being, who want to keep Ireland's capital smart, neat and clean ? ;-)



Anonymous said...

This stuff is dangerous stuff. You could become paranoid for the rest of your life or a hypochondriac.
I have smoked some of the legal smokes and it was the worst experience of my life. I would be a million times better of if I smoked real weed instead. Our society is backwards. I don't smoke weed anymore, smoke or drink. I just drink green tea. This stuff is a million times worse than good weed or hash, so why is it legal.
I feel fine now, now that I have not taken anything in a few months. Stay away from this stuff. The amount of chemicals they put in(production problem)vary from batch, to batch. You could take a few hits from the legal cannabis one night and end up with your heart jumping out of your rib cage.

Anna said...

Yet another adult shop / (also alleged to be a head shop ) Youtopia burned in Sligo, this was in today's ( 11th March) IT. Yes, the west's awake...
Concerned Neighbourbood Watch Arsonists & Long Established Neighbourhood Drug Dealers even out there, will no longer tolerate the steady erosion of their profits by head shops...