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Murder of Veronica Guerin
Set up Ministerial Task Force on Measures to Reduce the Demand
for Drugs (1996)
Ireland had a drug problem and that this was primarily an opiate problem –
mainly heroin; that this was primarily a Dublin phenomenon; that the drug
using population was concentrated in
1980's use became popular in the U.S. United Kingdom and in
In Ireland MDMA was classified as Schedule 1 of the Misuse of
Drugs Act since 1987
Ecstasy arrived on the drug scene in Ireland in the early 1990's.
The first Head shops emerge in 2005 6 based in Dublin City
6 headshops Dublin city centre
Mescaline plants untraditional substance being sold between
€30 - €400
Magic Mushrooms controlled 2005
July 31, 2005 Irish Times ‘Magic mushrooms’ banned in UK on sale in Irish shops - Scott
HALLUCINOGENIC mushrooms, which were this month classified as class A drugs alongside
heroin and cocaine in Britain, are on sale openly in Irish shops.
The so-called magic mushrooms contain the chemical psilocin which has a hallucinogenic affect
when ingested. Although there has been a long-standing ban on dry or packaged magic
mushrooms, it is still legal to possess or sell them in fresh form in the republic. The British
government closed this loophole earlier this month, but in Ireland the sale of the mushrooms is still
A spokesman for the Head Shop in Dublin’s Temple Bar, which sells a growing number of magic
mushrooms imported from mainland Europe, said: “The change in the UK has really been driven by
press scaremongering rather than health concerns. What has been said is nonsense.
“We sell the mushrooms at a euro a gramme and we have had no complaints of harmful effects by
any of our customers, who are of all ages and from the rich to poor.”
The Head Shop is one of two in Dublin selling the mushrooms. In Britain, more than 400 shops
sold the mushrooms.
In 2006 BZP tablets emerged onto the market and were being
sold in these shops as herbal ecstasy and replacing MDMA
It was during this time head shops expanded and young
people who were not using drugs were being introduced to
these substances and known as not for human consumption
and known as ‘ legal highs’
Each tablet was selling for around €5 and the pill strength was
up to 540mg of BZP in the tablets.
White powder substances emerge into
the Head Shops which were mainly
cathinone based products
The annual number of cocaine cases
increased by 177% from 2002 to
2007. This increase was in line with
increases in cocaine seizures, in
cocaine use among the general
population and in cocaine-related
deaths during the same time period.
Changing Drug Market
2007 when there were calls to ban 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP)
as BZP was taking over the MDMA Market
Garda official seizure figures at the time confirm this fewer
than 19,000 ecstasy tablets seized in 2009, compared with
119,000 in 2008 and 285,000 in 2007
20% increase in people accessing treatment services for
Heroin use 2002 and 2007
2008 / 2009
Seizure of 5.2 tonnes of illegal sassafras oil
a precursor in the manufacture of the drug
This had a significant effect on the quality and
quantity of MDMA tablets available in Ireland.
31st March 2009 BZP became a banned
“when BZP was banned there were six other
substances similar that were then bought out into
the market place and then theses were being used
BZP, which mimics the effects of ecstasy, gave
drug gangs a new bestseller, and outlawing
new legal highs would do the same thing:
“95% of what’s being sold as ecstasy in
Ireland now is actually BZP, though not
necessarily the pure unadulterated substance
you were able to get in the head shops prior to
Synthetic cannaboids were being
introduced into the shops which were
increasing in popularity
By the end of 2009 102 shops were
open throughout the country
The European Early Warning System identified
24 new psychoactive substances in 2009
41 in 2010
34 in 2011
The most recent EMCDDA snapshot survey of online retailers
selling new psychoactive substances identified over 600 online
shops, almost twice as many as a year ago.
When mephedrone was placed under control in Europe, online
retailers started to advertise naphyrone as a replacement.
However, instead of naphyrone, many samples contained one or
more controlled cathinones, or other substances chemically
unrelated to naphyrone.
“ The whole head shop thing was a massive deal for us it
broke down barriers and taboos , we found there were school
kids college going people there is that term experimentation it
lifted all the barriers people don’t get involved with that
because people don’t want to have to deal with the nasty side,
don’t want to deal with criminals. Our robberies were going
through the roof because people were becoming addicted
heavily on that, people who had never ever come to the
attention of the Gardaí who came from good homes , good
education were all of a sudden were robbing people on the
street and beating them, their motive for doing it was to get
23rd August 2010 Psychoactive Substances Act became law
– The ultimate aim of this legislation was to shut down the
head shop industry.
There was no offence for personal possession under this act
of a psychoactive substance that was not controlled
4 tonnes of psychoactive substances were handed in
The whole head shop thing was a massive deal for us it broke down
barriers and taboos , we found there were school kids college going
people there is that term experimentation it lifted all the barriers people
don’t get involved with that because people don’t want to have to deal with
the nasty side, don’t want to deal with criminals
Our robberies were going through the roof because people were
becoming addicted heavily on that, people who had never ever come to
the attention of the Gardaí who came from good homes , good education
were all of a sudden were robbing people on the street and beating them,
their motive for doing it was to get more money.”
2011 Heroin Drought
Supply routes were cut off and the street price of the drug
Suppliers were diluting heroin with other drugs.
Tablets are very much high on the list I would say in the last two
years, with the closure of the headshops immediately after that
we were found that a lot of stuff that had gone underground we
were still occasionally making seizures there were still stuff
around particularly BZP tablets somebody had these in storage,
there have been instances of large seizures, in one instance we
had a seizure of ½ million BZP tablets, the person who was
holding onto them was of the firm belief they were ecstasy tablets”
“People using cocaine or what people think is ecstasy, then we
find out through analysis it is BZP a lot of those tablets have gone
underground and are emerging on the scene, people don’t really
know what they are using but are willing to at the same time.
Cocaine as well it is being mixed up with headshop stuff”
The shift toward widespread global availability of all drugs is evident in the
recent online presence of drug marketplaces
Surfing the Silk Road’: A study of users’ experiences.
Van Hout & Bingham (2013)
Few reported prior experience of online drug sourcing. Reasons for
utilizing ‘Silk Road‟ included curiosity, concerns for street drug quality
and personal safety, variety of products, anonymous transactioning, and
ease of product delivery.
Vendor selection appeared based on trust, speed of transaction, stealth
modes and quality of product. Forums on the site provided user advice,
trip reports, product and transaction reviews. Some users reported
solitary drug use for psychonautic and introspective purposes.
Minority reported customs seizures, and in general a displacement away
from traditional drug sourcing (street and closed markets) was
described. Several reported intentions to commence vending on the site.
Responsible Vendors, Intelligent Consumers: Silk
Road, the online revolution in drug trading Van Hout
& Bingham (2013)
Vendors described themselves as 'intelligent and responsible'
consumers of drugs. Decisions to commence vending operations on the
site centred on simplicity in setting up vendor accounts, and opportunity
to operate within a low risk, high traffic, high mark-up, secure and
anonymous Deep Web infrastructure.
The embedded online culture of harm reduction ethos appealed to them
in terms of the responsible vending and use of personally tested high
quality products. The professional approach to running their Silk Road
businesses and dedication to providing a quality service was
characterised by professional advertising of quality products,
professional communication and visibility on forum pages,
speedy dispatch of slightly overweight products, competitive pricing,
good stealth techniques and efforts to avoid customer disputes.
Vendors appeared content with a fairly constant buyer demand and
described a relatively competitive market between small and big time
Concerns were evident with regard to Bitcoin instability.
Where Now ?
2014 is going to be another year that the dark net will develop
and the open internet is there. People in other countries are
operating on other servers throughout the world and the supply
is wholesale at the stage it’s a huge challenge for Law
The total numbers of retailers on the Silk Road increased by
42 per cent in the six months to the site’s closure in October
2013. Researchers found the Silk Road was quickly replaced
by alternate sites in the wake of its forced shutdown.
Anti-Slavery International (ASI) identified that potential victims of trafficking for
forced labour in cannabis farms are being trafficked from Vietnam to Ireland
via the UK.
Despite strong indicators of trafficking for forced labour presenting in cannabis
production, few cases have been investigated and none have been identified
as human trafficking. As a consequence of this, potential victims are being
prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for crimes they may have been forced
to commit – while their traffickers enjoy impunity.