Ireland's drug problem

The recent report on Cocaine usage in Ireland shows that recreational cocaine use is on the increase with the associated serious consequences. As recent debates indicate politicians in this country are afraid to even put their heads above the parapets to suggest a debate on the legalisation of drugs. It seems that this a taboo too far for them in an election year. Gay Byrne is to be applauded for raising the issue.


It has been obvious for a while now that prohibition is not working and will never work. Drugs have been a part of human existence long before the advent of civil law and will go on regardless of the types of legislation in place. The results of prohibition are plain to see; a huge illegal black market controlled by ruthless gangs who create the 'gateways' through which vulnerable people get caught up in hard drugs.
The argument that the legalisation of drugs will lead to a societal break down is a red herring as far I am concerned. Drugs are freely available despite prohibition and have no quality control associated with them which means that young people are at the mercy of unscrupulous gangsters. What used to be seen as a relatively benign drug, cannabis is now being sold in higher uncontrolled strengths. Nobody knows what ingredients are being put into cocaine, heroin or speed to dilute them for profit.
Also the argument of cannabis being a gateway drug is a weak one. In the same way that there are individuals more likely to become alcoholics, similarly there are individuals prone to drug addiction. As a percentage of the population this is number small and the legal status of drugs will not make any difference to that propensity for drug addiction.
The legalisation of drugs would bring recreational drug use within the control of the state, would increase visibility of drug users and help in their search for rehabilitation as the stigma would be gone. The rug would be pulled from the illegal trade freeing up Garda resources. Drug use reflects a disillusionment with society and Ireland's slide into shallow consumerism has driven escapism and the desire for drugs. It is that culture that we should also be paying more attention to.


Barry Walsh, Cork