Judge: Head shops affect the most vulnerable

A head shop owner who stored a cannabis-like chemical substance was told yesterday that her offence “merited” a few days in jail.

The Funky Skunk head shop in Killarney

Helen Stone, who runs the Funky Skunk shop on Killarney’s High St, admitted two charges of possession of the unlawful substance, Mad Alice.

Judge James O’Connor lashed out at head shops and described them as targeting the “most vulnerable”.

Stone, aged 47, from Kilnapogue, Kealkil, Bantry, Co Cork, pleaded guilty at Killarney District Court to possession of the unlawful substance and having the controlled drug for sale or supply at the Funky Skunk on Jan 30, 2012.

Legislation was brought in in 2010 to control the sale or supply of certain substances in head shops.

Judge O’Connor said that “all these head shops” had been a major source of worry for years before the legislation was brought in.

“Hers was not a chemist shop. There was no need for such shops.

“These things destroy people’s health and the most vulnerable are affected. It’s up to her to clean her shelves of substances outside the law.

“To call a spade a spade Ms Stone, you were selling something that’s illegal, injurious to people’s health and these shops are a major source of worry. You knew what you were at,” he said, as the defendant approached the bench.

After being told the shop remained in business but was now selling theatrical and other items as well as legal substances, the judge said: “This is all borderline stuff.”

Judge O’Connor said that while it was not a Section 15 offence, it was sale or supply, and strictly speaking, she would have to do “a few days inside”.

He adjourned the matter to Apr 16 but indicated the offence “merits two to three days” in jail.

Stone’s solicitor Padraig O’Connell said she had fully co-operated with gardaí at all times.

The employee, he said, was not aware Mad Alice had become a prescribed drug and that it should not have been offered for sale.

However, he said: “Ms Stone took full responsibility and admitted the items was on the premises and for sale.”

It had only just been put on the controlled drug list at the time of the seizure, he said.

“There was nothing found wanting in Ms Stone’s behaviour at any time.”

Enquiring as to the effects of taking Mad Alice, Judge O’Connor had been told it was “a substitute for cannabis but not very potent”.

Stone, originally from England, has been living in West Cork for four years. She is renting the premises in Killarney, she told the court.

Insp Fearghal Patwell told how gardaí entered the shop on information a controlled substance was being sold. An employee handed over 19 packets of the substance Mad Alice, valued at €310.

The drugs were seized and analysed and it was found to be a controlled substance.

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