‘Drugs Policy Is Based On Tabloids And Shows Like Yours’

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Rbb_400x400Joe Duffy (top) and Stuart Clark with a Rubberbandit (above)

In the wake of the accidental legalisation of certain types of drugs  Stuart Clark of Hot Press magazine went on Liveline on RTÉ One yesterday..

Mr Clark, a long-time campaigner against the closure of head shops, was asked to EXPLAIN himself by Joe Duffy, whose campaign helped force the last government to rush legislation ensuring the closure of head shops in 2010.

Grab a small tay.

Joe Duffy: “I don’t know whether you heard Paulo Brennan a former member of the Fianna Fail National Executive at the start and he was saying the Government should use this loophole today to actually allow the re-opening of head shops, what do you think of that?”

Clark: “Well, I totally agree. One of the things that happened when Mary Harney banned them was that they went straight onto the illegal market. We did a survey two years ago, a thousand recreational drug users, and that was the case. I also feel that if the loophole remained open we would not probably see an increase in the number of people taking illegal drugs, and I say that based on Colorado, where marijuana across the board has been legalised since January the 1st, all the research, it’s fairly intense research, shows no increase in the use overall of marijuana, and the most liberal drug laws, where decriminalisation has been introduced in Portugal, again it shows that people aren’t taking the drugs they didn’t used to take, what they are doing is feeling more confident about going to their doctors or seeking mental help if they do have a problem.”

Duffy: “But places like Holland have restricted the sale of cannabis.”

Clarke: “This has been very much contested. It’s based on very small samples.”

Duffy: “And we all know what happened in Colorado was about money. “

Clark: “Well, obviously, but…”

Duffy: “It’s about money. “

Clark: “It’s not just that, Joe. it doesn’t help anybody who takes marijuana to make them a criminal even if you think marijuana is damaging, is it going to help them having a criminal record, they they can’t leave the country and go to America or Australia where we’re exporting people, but also for the rest of their lives they’re stigmatised, that can’t help anybody with a so-called drug problem.”

Duffy: “I think, I think, Stuart I think a lot of people would agree with you on the decriminalisation issue, but the opening of head shops, I think, is where people draw the line.”

Clark: “What was interesting was and with the greatest respect government drug policy is not really based on facts and figures, it’s based on tabloids and shows like yourself, no research was done, they were saying it was creating a new market, now I would say from the research that we were part of people going to legal high shops have been buying illegal drugs and they went back to buying illegal drugs, what we’re doing though is taking away the huge amount of money by common criminals.”

Duffy: “And the 110 head shops were simply replaced by back lane drug dealers?”

Clark: “Well certainly we have hard and fast information that all of those substances went within a matter of weeks onto the illegal market, so we didn’t get rid of them, we just shoved them onto the illegal market.”

Duffy: “Okay, okay, thanks indeed, time is out, it’s three o’clock, Stuart, thanks indeed, that’s Stuart Clark of Hot Press.”

Listen here (at 1.11.42)

Yesterday: Lawful Coffeee, Uncontrolled Substances And YOU

47 thoughts on “‘Drugs Policy Is Based On Tabloids And Shows Like Yours’

  1. Bort

    Nobody was doing “plant food” after the head shops closed, imagine going to a real live dealer looking for meow meow? Scarleh!

    The Legal High explosion was one of the worst thing to happen to young people in this country for decades

    1. scottser

      ‘The Legal High explosion was one of the worst thing to happen to young people in this country for decades’

      i couldn’t agree more. from a harm reductive perspective, the head shops were in a fantastic position to advocate for careful and responsible use. instead, the promotion of legal highs, safe highs etc, gave an impression to young people that polydrug use, particularly with alcohol, was without danger. furthermore, there was no information on what products contained, potential side effects etc, only disclaimers. in my line of work i saw more exclusions, hospitalisations, pyschosis and arrests from head shop gear than with traditional class ‘a’s.

      besides, pyrovalerones, methcathinones, bzp etc are all filth on the system. you’re better off taking the real thing, if you can get it. most e’s and coke are cut to jaysus with this sh1te now.

      1. Bort

        I liked the days when you bought pills and they were made from ecstasy and coke had coke in it. Serioulsy
        Legal highs gone wrong look at new Zealand

        1. Don Pidgeoni

          Not really. They tried regulating synthetic cannabis, there were a lot of hospital admissions from users and so now the onus is on manufacturers to prove it is safe, like any other medicine or product for human consumption. Seems like a pretty reasonable balance.

    2. Martin

      yes, people were doing “plant food” as many of the pills that were in the head shops became legally unsellable, so were then sold on the blackmarket to people as ecstasy pills.
      this lead to people taking BZP and PZP pills which were being sold as “ecstasy”, which in turn lead to erroneous media coverage of people falling ill/dying from “ecstasy”, when in truth they hadn’t taken ecstasy at all, as subsequent tests and autopsies showed (which needless to say didn’t make the screaming tabloid frontpages)….

    3. ZeligIsJaded

      Head Shop drugs, in general, were not as strong than their illegal counterparts.

      Meow Meow was less likely to result in heart attacks than coke, or speed.

      Nutt certainly seemed to think that the criminalisation of drugs like mephedrone was a bad thing

  2. f-mong

    The summer magic mushrooms were legal and for sale from head shops was the BEST SUMMER EVER. Fact.

    1. Bobby

      I’m fairly sure you’re wrong and it was in fact the Summer of ’69 that was actually the best Summer ever.

        1. Joe the Lion

          @ Hoop

          I was looking at the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days’ the other day and discovered that when I thought he was saying “making love like a poolboy” he actually says “make you look like a fool boy”

          Scarleh. I guess I watched too many pornos where pool guys are getting it.

          1. Romy Thomas

            I used to think Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers were singing Ireland’s Industry not Islands in the Stream.

          2. Spaghetti Hoop

            ‘Ireland’s Industry, that is what we are…’
            Reminds me of when Lionel Ritchie brightened up the Dublin to Holyhead route and was ‘Dancing on the Sealink’.

    1. Paul

      Or he’s just trying to have a sensible discussion about the country’s archaic drug policies.

      1. Smiley Bolger

        No, pretending to be a teenager. He’s been playing this card for years. Perfectly suited to Hot Press as he couldn’t get arrested anywhere else.

  3. droid

    Joe unusually reticent to push on this one, perhaps conscious of the fact that the moral panic he whipped up is partly responsible for the current legal mess.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Very true. It must have boosted his ratings though, and will continue to.

      Really need the JD Soundboard right now but alas it’s nowhere to be found :(

  4. Mister Mister

    Duffy: “And we all know what happened in Colorado was about money. “

    Clark: “Well, obviously, but…”

    Duffy: “It’s about money.

    What wasn’t conveyed in this text above was the venom and disgust in Joes voice in the 2 sentences above.

    A bit rich coming from a main leaching off the licence fee, despite his claims he’s paid from advertising.

    1. JimmytheHead

      Yes and what does “all about the money” mean exactly? As in it saves taxpayers a fortune from policing a freely available drug? or it saves money spent on jailing innocent people? or maybe hes referring (pun not intended) to the massive boost in revenue based on sale of taxed cannabis? Or maybe to the employment it generates?

      Joe is a dope, and that time the pun is intended.

    2. squiggleyjoop

      I don’t understand what he means by “all about the money”. Aren’t taxes all about the money? Isn’t the economy all about the money? Since when is that a bad thing? I guess that means he thinks all the extra tax we’ve been paying over the last few years was done for altruistic reasons.

  5. Joe the Lion

    That Joe Duffy earns such a large salary from a regressive tax offends me far more than the water charge

    Zuppy – Discuss?

  6. Kieran NYC

    There’ll never be a sensible drug policy in Ireland while that ‘beloved aunt’ is on the radio.

    Surprised he didn’t immediately jump to junkies dying with needles in their arms as soon as the word ‘drug’ was mentioned.

  7. Ppads

    Joe Duffy is paid €300,000 a year from the RTE tax. His nett pay depends on the inter web of tax rules which apply to that level of earning. He is articulate and shrewd and knows how to slant a topic in order to invoke a reaction but… he is very far from impartial.

    Then again, on his money I wouldn’t be either.

  8. Bonkers

    Sometimes I daydream that the Liffey would burst its banks and flood only Joe Duffys house in Clontarf.

    Upstairs and down.

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