If you would like to submit a contribution to our Readers Blog section then follow this link. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact number otherwise your submission will not be considered for publication. We will contact you prior to publication.

Dear Sir... Readers' Views (23/12/16)

Your letters, your views...

Rehashing the cannabis bashing

In his analysis article ‘It’s time to smoke out the lies about cannabis’ (Irish Examiner, December 19) Dr Bobby Smyth states: “Despite its portrayal, cannabis is not a soft and cuddly narcotic. Everyone needs to remember it’s a very addictive drug of marginal medicinal value.”

One wonders would Dr Smyth be prepared to proffer the exact same statement with regard to many of the narcotics currently being prescribed in the supposed cause of alleviating ‘life-distress’. Given both their addictive dependency quotients and their marginal medicinal value in recovery of equilibrium of the self, one must seriously question their usage, ‘despite their portrayal’ and their gross over-usage, to say nothing of the lack of enthusiastic dynamism to engage or explore substitute, non-biomedical therapies.

His commentary on cannabis is very well collated, clear and comprehensive, though betrays something of a distorted perspective in favour of not legalising cannabis. While Dr Smyth is obviously working at the coal-face of socio-economic deprivation and its attendant downsides, I wonder how his claims of extreme dependency and ensuing chaos emanating from cannabis usage extrapolate across the social and health spectra.

“About 10% of people who use a drug like cannabis are dependent upon it.” 10% is rather low, compared to the dependency of those unfortunate enough to have been prescribed biomedical ‘narcotics’. I’d reckon their percentage is easily a multiple of 10%, and that reality is actually a legalised one.

Serious crime blatantly pervades the illegal drug ‘trade’, so one would imagine that moves towards legalisation of cannabis would surely dent some of the criminal fall-out of what goes down. Sure, young people who are drawn into illegal drug-use, could possibly get into desperate debt with all the risky scenarios that might bring. But one has to believe that legalisation would relieve that side of the equation at least.

It is, of course, right and proper to highlight the complexity and potential risk associated with ‘weed’ version of multiple cannabinoids, and the chemicals that may be present. True to his medical credentials Dr Smyth comes up with the ‘big-pharma’ alternative just to put the record straight and banish any such ‘legalising’ nonsense which lurks outside the ‘pharma-medical-profiteering’ triangle of professional and corporate aggrandisement.

“We already have such a medicine available in Ireland. It is called Sativex and it contains a combination of the aforementioned THC and cannabidiol.”.

Such utterances presume, of course that all pharma-research is above-board, squeaky clean and always pure, unadulterated authentic, with never a hint of corporate/commercial ‘foul-play’. The trick is always to use the ‘research’ card to nullify any other assessment or perspective. We all already know what recent Editors-in-Chief of both The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine think about the veracity and authenticity of much of the touted research over the past decade and more.

“There is some evidence that it can be of help to people with MS,” suggests Smyth, and he apparently does not rate such practice-based-evidence, ie, just because it works in practice, doesn’t mean we have the ‘research’ to prove it, or in other (real) words, if such things are legalised, it drains the medico-folk of some of their professional control.

Casting disdainful aspersion on any legalising, Dr Smyth laments that “this would then be dispensed not in a pharmacy, where real medicines are sourced...” Shock-horror, the ‘medico-pharma’ stranglehold might get breached, never mind about the user garnering some efficacious benefit.

“Our new challenge is cannabis. We must now tackle it with the same commitment that we did heroin in Dublin two decades ago.” Surely, something of an over-egged clarion-warning, and something that legalising could perhaps easily dismantle.

Of course, apart from this legalisation debate, the truly core challenge is to comprehensively ascertain and address why many people, both young and not-so-young feel the need to engage in any such activity. Why is our familial/communal/societal complexion so grim, that so many might wish to disengage into any altered state of consciousness. But that is practical sociological fodder, and ostensibly not under any serious consideration.

The statutory responders to ‘life-distress’ are giving little in the way of good example, by continuing to prescribe ‘pharma-narcotics’ for every perceivable mood vagary. People in glass-houses, etc...

Jim Cosgrove

Chapel Street
Lismore
Co Waterford

Trumps up! We’re not all losers now

Now that the dust has settled on the US election result, together with the outpouring of “ liberal “ doom and gloom, may I offer an alternative scenario.

As an avid racing punter, I have to confess that 2016 was an absolute disaster. From Cheltenham to Punchestown to Ascot — loser, after loser, after loser. The pot had virtually run dry. However on the advice of a knowledgeable friend I took a substantial punt on US stocks and shares just prior to the election. Well, happy days are here again. Reasons to be cheerful — big time. Incidentally those whose pensions include an element of US stock are also quids in. To paraphrase Barry Mcguigan, thank you very, very much Mr Trump.

Eric Conway

Navan
Co Meath

Hitting a falsetto note on live TV

The Lord loves a trier but in all honesty was Louis Walsh having us on in thinking the lad on last Friday’s The Late Late Show with the falsetto voice, is capable of winning the Eurovision Song Contest. Perhaps Louis is mixing up his seasons — Christmas for April Fool’s Day. Bring Back Dustin!

Edward Lynch

South Mall
Lismore
Co Waterford

Pylons will detract from countryside

EirGrid has just got approval to construct 299 high wattage (15 metre high) pylons from County Meath to County Tyrone.

My personal view is that the pylons are just plain ugly.

Ireland’s landscape is beautiful. Why destroy the beauty with something that can be buried and unseen? Common sense should prevail.

Kevin Devitte

Mill Street
Westport
County Mayo

One rule for rock stars on tax issue

Ah, it’s that time of years again, when tax shy rock stars line Grafton street to sing up for the homeless. I can’t help feeling the opposite of a warm fuzzy glow inside when I see The Messiah, sorry ‘Bono’ from the U2, belt out his one-eyed rage about the injustice of homelessness. Perhaps Bono might put his heartfelt view that “tax competitiveness gave us the only prosperity we have ever known” to verse. He could call the song ‘Pride in The Name of Private Wealth Funds’?

The single biggest factor effecting homelessness is wealth disparity. The single biggest factor generating wealth disparity is an unjust tax system. No one seriously disputes that Ireland facilitates corporations to pay little or no tax, by comparison with the more mature societies of Europe. Rock stars too, jump ship to even more tax competitive countries than ours, when the prospect of paying tax becomes all too repugnant.

It’s high time we stopped falling at the feet of the wealthy in this country, including tax shy rock stars, and demand that they begin to be taxed on their full income and wealth at the same rate as the average worker. Now that would be somethings to sing about.

Declan Doyle

Lisdowney
Kilkenny

McGregor’s sport is brutal and vicious

It absolutely sickened me to the core to see Conor McGregor getting the award of Sportsperson of the Year.

His “sport” is brutal, vicious, grotesque and sick and is as bad as hare coursing without muzzles.

Jerry Daly

Caherslee
Tralee


Lifestyle

It came as quite a surprise to learn that I had been writing my Weekend column in the Irish Examiner for 21 years — how the years have flown by and how the food scene has changed in Ireland over those two decades.A letter from Darina Allen, celebrating 21 years writing for The Irish Examiner

More From The Irish Examiner