Earlier in the year in my native Cork a house party went crazy and a teenager died as a result. You are immediately thinking, that's got to be drugs, aren't you? And of course, you are right, it was drugs. The scene in the room was described on radio as complete carnage with a young couple dancing nude on the chairs and covered in blood. Another ran out onto the road naked and the place was thrashed. Bodies lay all over the place in a semi-conscious condition. It took a fleet of ambulances to shift the gormless to hospital.
I have argued on these pages before that while it might take forty to fifty years smoking tobacco before any ill effects occur, one single dose of a hard drug can kill you in minutes. Drugs frighten me because of the loss of self-control and immediate danger involved. And yet, I am told that, just like illicit tobacco, you can find illegal drugs available everywhere if you're looking for them. I'm not talking about marijuana or a recreational joint. The stuff at the party was an instantly mind-altering, mood-altering substance known to drive the user insane. The drug's name is N-bomb for goodness sake.
So I read with amazement subsequently that our Minister for Health wanted to do something about it. Are you sitting down? The Independent reported that, "Health Minister Leo Varadkar has revealed that he is examining a proposal to allow users of drugs in venues such as clubs to have them tested for potentially lethal ingredients." Isn't that just incredible? I'm imaging a little HSE stand just inside the door of nightclubs, maybe just behind the bouncers and probably manned by a qualified white coat and a nurse. The kids just produce the deadly poison from their pockets or handbags and the helpful, (underworked), State employees test it to make sure …… make sure what? Make sure it is SAFE?
As an aside, would the HSE staff doing that job be guilty of handling illegal substances? But isn't this just absolute lunacy? I am trying to imagine the exchanges in such an instance. Four or five guys are gathered around the studious white uniforms as they run some test or other on the pill or powder produced. "Is it good shit?" one asks nervously. The white coat hands it back with a broad smile. "It'll blow your fucking socks off," he assures the now grinning blokes.
The mind boggles. It's against the law to even have stuff like that and yet there is a solid drug culture among our young. A recent survey of third level students across the country found that 83 per cent had tried something illicit. Now, it seems, the State wishes to endorse this illegal stupid behavior by helping them to continue their use in flea-pits that do not come alive until after midnight. This is being discussed at a time when responsible adults are not allowed by law to smoke a legal product in a public house. Set against that, the notion of having your illegal and instantly deadly product tested at the door of a nightclub is supposed to make sense. I'm almost lost for words with this one.
Then in the same paper shortly afterwards we were told that, "Schools told expulsion over narcotics must be last resort." When I was in school you could be expelled for throwing a punch in self-defense. Now though, it seems the guidelines for kids taking drugs in school will be changed to facilitate that illegal behavior. The article does not mention the creche or primary schools for now, I'm presuming the kid-glove approach refers to secondary education. Are these the 'precious children' we smokers are constantly told about?
Those two reports above are against a background of growing calls to legalize marijuana. At the same time there is a concerted effort against the use of e-cigarettes because "It looks like smoking, (tobacco)." Three clear messages from officialdom become apparent as a result. If you are a responsible law-abiding adult who enjoys a legal tobacco smoke then you must be shunned and hounded for your free choice. However, our precious children must be permitted their illegal narcotics and assisted to ensure they get the right bang for their buck in flea-pit venues after midnight. Meanwhile, smokers choosing to quit by way of e-cigs must be penalized for their desire to quit smoking.
What in God's name is going on?