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Ireland Accidentally Legalizes Narcotics

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Ireland’s tough new anti-narcotics law turned out to be a bit too tough, prompting a judge to rule against certain provisions. This had the unfortunate effect of “temporarily legalizing the possession of many street stimulants and hallucinogens,” as the Associated Press reports. The BBC lists specific examples including “ecstasy, crystal meth, and ketamine.”

What was the problem with this ill-fated drug law? Well, it was one of those “executive orders” we’ve been hearing so much about in the United States. The judge shot it down because it had not been voted properly into law by the legislature.

“Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the government hoped its patchwork bill would be signed into law by Wednesday,” the most sadly amusing part of the AP report reads. “He cautioned drug dealers that, despite the ruling, they would be arrested if caught by police dealing drugs overnight.”

Things are not going well when your national health minister has to issue a public statement reminding drug dealers that they are still criminals. The emergency legislation was indeed passed by the Irish Senate, so the legal drug interlude will end on Thursday night. The BBC reports that assurances were given to the Irish Department of Health that “previous convictions for the possession of drugs are still safe,” which would avert a prosecutorial nightmare, although the Irish Examiner said Varadkar was still worried about the possible overturning of dozens of drug convictions as of Tuesday evening. He has indicated support for liberalizing Ireland’s drug laws to a “health and addiction approach” rather than a “criminal justice and enforcement one.”

An Irish hip-hop musician who calls himself “Blindboy Boatclub” and prefers to give performances and interviews while wearing a plastic garbage bag over his face, called into NewsTalk host Tom Dunne’s show while flying on “legally consumed yips.” At least, that’s what he claimed online, although he was a bit more coy during the interview. He described his current status to Dunne as follows: “Let’s just say, my legs are having an argument with my shoulders over how much rent my body is charging.”

Whatever the chemical composition of his blood might have been at the time, Blindboy went on to make an extremely sensible argument against drug abuse:

We need to move towards a conversation about mental health. I’m not into telling adults what to do, but any time you get a pang in your body for any substance, you have the opportunity to ask yourself, using interpersonal emotional intelligence: Why do I want this substance right now? If you’re stressed for an exam and you want to smoke a fag, ask yourself: Why do I want this? You might find out that you don’t want that substance any more. At the core of all of this we’ve got a mental health discussion. It’s hard to have rational mental health, when the drug laws themselves are irrational.

That’s a point about impulse control, addiction, and mental health somewhat at variance with clowning around about getting high while it’s technically legal. Much of popular culture sends the message that you shouldn’t ask yourself any tough questions about indulging in anything that feels good. If getting drunk, high, etc. is cool and funny, what’s to think about?


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