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Irish Drug trends, responses and unintended consequences

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Irish Drug trends, responses and unintended consequences

  1. 1. Drug trends, responses and unintended consequences SSDP Ireland National Conference 5th April 2014 Tim Bingham Drug Trends Researcher
  2. 2. 1970/1980
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. Ecstasy (MDMA) 1980's use became popular in the U.S. United Kingdom and in Australia 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.
  5. 5. Head Shops The first Head shops emerge in 2005 6 based in Dublin City Centre 6 headshops Dublin city centre Mescaline plants untraditional substance being sold between €30 - €400
  6. 6. Magic Mushrooms controlled 2005 July 31, 2005 Irish Times ‘Magic mushrooms’ banned in UK on sale in Irish shops - Scott Millar 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 legal. 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.
  7. 7. BZP 2006 In 2006 BZP tablets emerged onto the market and were being sold in these shops as herbal ecstasy and replacing MDMA based tablets. 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.
  8. 8. 2007 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.
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 2008 / 2009 Seizure of 5.2 tonnes of illegal sassafras oil a precursor in the manufacture of the drug MDMA This had a significant effect on the quality and quantity of MDMA tablets available in Ireland. 31st March 2009 BZP became a banned substance
  11. 11. “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 and abused” 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 the ban.
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. 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.
  15. 15. “ 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.”
  16. 16.  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 overnight
  17. 17. 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.”
  18. 18. 2011 Heroin Drought  Supply routes were cut off and the street price of the drug had doubled.  Suppliers were diluting heroin with other drugs.
  19. 19. Garda Quote 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”
  20. 20. Customs Seizures since 2011
  21. 21. The shift toward widespread global availability of all drugs is evident in the recent online presence of drug marketplaces
  22. 22. 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.
  23. 23. 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 market players.  Concerns were evident with regard to Bitcoin instability.
  24. 24. 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 Enforcement” 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.
  25. 25. 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.
  26. 26. Developing Trends
  27. 27. Contact details Tim Bingham 0863893530 Email info@timbingham.ie www.timbingham.ie

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