DESPITE an ongoing media focus on the ever-increasing number of headshops opening throughout the country, only three people turned up at a protest organised by Sinn Féin at the Harmonisation Headshop on Woodquay this week.
All three protesters were involved in organising the protest and voiced their disappointment at the apparent complacency of the general public towards headshops.
Seán Hayes of Ógra Sinn Féin said that they expected more people to join their protest. “We are disappointed that more people did not turn up. There is still a level of complacency and a lack of understanding about headshops and the products on sale in them and we want the risks highlighted so that people, including parents of teenagers and young adults, will be aware of what is available legally in shops nowadays,” Mr Hayes said.
He believes that the matter is a “tragedy waiting to happen”. “It is only a matter of time before someone sustains a long-term effect or even dies from taking a substance they have bought in a headshop. In our view, then it will be too late for action to be taken,” he commented.
Mr Hayes explained the reason for their protest. “We are objecting to headshops on the basis that they are not regulated. There is no product liability. The products that they are selling are proven to be unsafe for human use. These products are being advertised as bath salts, plant seeds – it’s absolutely ridiculous. There are no morals in the sale of these products,” he claimed.
He urged the government to bring in urgent legislation in relation to head. “There is certainly inadequate regulation of these shops. To date, there is no legislation to govern how they operate. This matter must be addressed as a matter of great urgency,” he added.
Mr Hayes stated that he knew one 22-year-old who told him that he could not sleep for two days after taking a substance called Hurricane Charlie that he bought in a headshop. “He was so high after taking it that he couldn’t come down sufficiently to sleep,” he said.
He added that Sinn Féin had tried to make contact with the operator of the Harmonisation Headshop a number of times. “They won’t engage with us about our concerns. In the first quarter of an hour we were here protesting today, 17 people walked into this shop, so headshops are being used a lot. And a number of those who entered this shop during the time are not over 18 years of age,” he claimed.
He said that the Government must continue to be lobbied to bring in legislation on headshops. “That has to continue so that the penny will drop. There are over 100 headshops in Ireland right now, including two in Ennis. The system operating in the US in relation to headshops is called emergency scheduling. When a new product is created, it goes through 12 months of testing before it is allowed to be sold. We need at least a similar situation in Ireland. The safety of these products has not been proven,” Mr Hayes added.
The owner of Harmonisation refused to speak to The Clare Champion about the protest outside the shop or any other matter relating to headshops.