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Gardaí admit they can't prosecute over 'legal highs', despite links to deaths

The mother of a young man whose death was connected to the drugs said, “If the Gardai had been tougher it wouldn’t have been as easy to get this stuff”.

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File Photo
Image: Shutterstock/GROGL

GARDAÍ ARE NOT able to pursue prosecutions in connection to ‘legal highs’, despite the drugs being linked to deaths in the country.

In spite of the closure of headshops in 2010, legal highs amongst young people in Ireland are the highest in Europe.

That’s according to RTÉs Prime Time programme, which investigated how the ban has pushed the drugs underground.

One such drug – Clockwork Orange – was linked to the death of two young men in Monaghan in the last year. The synthetic cannabis is being sold online and by street dealers.

Sharon McQuaid, whose son PJ’s death has been connected to the use of Clockwork Orange, told RTÉs Prime Time:

I blame the gardai to a certain extent because they know who is selling it and maybe their hands are tied or whatever, I blame myself too because as a mother I should have known, should have done something but at the end of the day I blame myself for PJ, for everything that has gone on, but if the Gardai had been tougher it wouldn’t have been as easy to get this stuff.

Detective Inspector Tony Howard said, “with Clockwork Orange, which I am very aware of, there is an issue, but it’s not just an issue here in this jurisdiction, there’s very little international research around that particular drug, so yes there is an issue with that particular drug”.

When asked if gardaí can pursue a prosecution for the sale and possession of legal highs, Howard said:

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“Well at the moment we can’t, but it is only a matter of time before the Department of health bring it in as a controlled drug, under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which is our primary legislation for dealing with illicit drugs here in Ireland.”

Minister of State with responsibility for the Drugs Strategy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the “legislation being prepared will be extremely robust, the heads of this bill have already been published and it will be enacted early next year”.

The programme also spoke to one former user of Clockwork Orange who described the drug:

 It just pans you out. You don’t want to move you don’t want to talk. It’s hard enough keeping your eyes concentrating on the telly and what’s going on around you.

“Then when you don’t have it, it’s just, a total different person. The whole paranoia sets in, anxiety. It makes you feel very sick.”

Read: Is Leo feeling the effects of ‘poison chalice’ that was handed to him?>

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