Tip-offs from the public helping gardaí seize large quantities of cannabis

Cannabis has been found growing in tents in rural West Cork, gardaí have said. 
Tip-offs from the public helping gardaí seize large quantities of cannabis

A small amount of cannabis seized in Cork city recently. Picture: Garda Síochána

Tip-offs from the public have helped gardaí seize large quantities of cannabis since the pandemic struck this year as more people have remained at home in their communities.

Cannabis worth an estimated €257,800 has been seized in Cork over the last seven days.

A further €1,140,000 of the drug has been seized in Co Kildare and Co Dublin over the same period.

And in the three preceding weeks, €9,703,400 was seized nationally while an additional €153,200 of cannabis was seized in Co Cork.

Drugs' offences almost doubled, jumping by 40% in Cork City between January and August this year compared to the same period last year.

Superintendent Michael Comyns said: “Whilst gardaí continue to police the Level 5 restrictions regarding Covid-19, it is important to assure the public that gardaí are still active in investigating serious crime. This is reflected in the increase in our detections into the sale and supply of drugs. ”

Chief superintendent of West Cork, Con Cadogan, said that the public's co-operation since the pandemic has been instrumental in helping gardaí fight the drug scourge in communities. 

Parents at home over lockdown have been a vital source of information and even teenagers have contacted gardaí with important tip-offs, he said.

“The community and An Garda Síochána working together is a very formidable force, no matter what crime you’re dealing with," he said.

"Drugs are a scourge on every community and I think parents are acting responsibly, teenagers as well have not been afraid to call in. That element of trust is vitally important."

Those arrested have ranged from their teens to their 50s and have been male and female.

Cannabis has been found growing in tents outside rural West Cork drug dens and in city centre searches.

Michael Guerin, leading addiction councillor with Cuan Mhuire rehabilitation centres, believes that while the spike in cannabis seizures is definitely linked to enhanced garda control of supply, it is also symptomatic of an increasingly "permissive culture" around cannabis consumption. 

“We can assume that the large, frequent seizures are indicative of greater supply and greater demand," he said. 

"We have become far more accepting of cannabis. And because people are more tolerant of it it gets used more in a recreational way."

Despite the drug's 'soft' image, with some government ministers  admitting to smoking it in the past, Mr Guerin said it can cause permanent damage with profound mental health complications for those who abuse it. 

People coming to Cuan Mhuire for treatment for cannabis are "in as bad a shape coming into treatment as anyone using anything else — cocaine, heroin, benzodiazepines, crack cocaine — all of it," Mr Guerin said.

“The psychological devastation associated with long-term cannabis abuse would rival any other substance. 

"There is a psychological implosion that happens in somebody who is addicted to cannabis. It brings them to their knees. People are hospitalised from it and need in-patient psychiatric services for psychiatric-induced psychosis. These people are in the minority but they’re there."

Mr Guerin said that part of the problem is that cannabis is far more potent than it used to be with much higher levels of THC, the drug's principal psychoactive chemical. 

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