THE head of the Limerick garda division has warned of a “dangerous trend” of young people and teenagers consuming cannabis jellies with some overdosing.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche issued the warning as he revealed that more than €1.6m worth of illegal drugs have been seized in the Limerick garda division so far this year.
This represents a 46% increase compared to the amount of drugs seized during first nine months of 2019.
In addition, more than €260,000 in cash has been seized during garda operations targeting the sale and supply of illegal drugs.
Up to the end of September, nearly 300 searches were carried out in Limerick under drugs legislation and almost 200 people are currently before the courts having been charged with sale and supply offences.
However, because of Covid-19 and the size of the current court lists in Limerick, it could be 2022 before some trials can take place.
While the majority of the seizures so far this year have been of cocaine, cannabis and heroin, €45,420 worth of cannabis jellies and €48,900 worth of cannabis juice were seized in Limerick between January 1 and September 30.
Chief Supt Roche told the quarterly meeting of the Limerick Joint Policing Committee that the trend of young people using drugs is particularly worrying.
“We regard the use of cannabis juices and jellies as a very serious trend because they are designed really to trap and to encourage people – particularly young teenagers – to take drugs, particularly cannabis and make them really harmless looking along the lines of of the alcopops from an alcohol point of view,” he said.
“We have issued warnings about it, people can take one of two of them (jellies) and they overdose so it is a trend that we are concerned about across the country,” he added.
Chief Supt Roche told the meeting that in many cases, cannabis jellies are bought online and are sent in the post in the hope they will not be detected by customs.
“They are jellies with the cannabis oil in them which gives a very high THC content – the problem is when people see them, they taste them and they taste very much like ordinary sweets and people take too many of them or kids take them and it is also seen as a way of getting teenagers, particularly young teenagers involved in the taking of cannabis and drugs by unscrupulous drug dealers,” he told the the Limerick Leader (see www.limerickleader.ie for video).
Addressing the wider issue of drug use, Chief Supt Roche said cocaine has become the “drug choice of use” for many people and that is has become a societal issue.
He added that many of those who use cocaine don’t drink alcohol and are in full time employment.
Members of the JPC expressed concern and surprise at the figures outlined in the presentation.
“A 46% increase in drug sale and supply is not an emergency – it’s a crisis,” said Cllr John Costelloe who said the figures are “absolutely staggering”.
Cllr Liam Galvin also expressed concern at the figures saying drug use is a “plague on our countryside” which needs to be eradicated.
Cllr Adam Teskey, chairman of the JPC, said the figures outlined during the meeting are worrying and he has called on people to take action.
“It is something that we must all think about but I want to pay tribute to members of An Garda Síochana who are carrying out a very difficult job in terms of policing this major major problem that is occurring and rotting into the core of our society and it’s is an extreme warning to people,” he said pointing out that the consumption of drugs can have a major impact on health services.
In reply to members, Chief Supt Roche said significant resources are being deployed to target drug-related criminality but that drugs “are only one aspect of what we do”.
A dedicated drugs unit was launched in the Newcastle West district earlier this year and he confirmed plans are being finalised to have a similar unit operating in the Bruff district in the near future.
The breakdown of drugs seized in the Limerick garda division up to September 30 is: cocaine (€744,695), cannabis (€491,115), heroin (€130,795), cannabis plants (€79,200), cannabis juice (€48,900), cannabis jellies (€45,420), Amphetamine (€40,250), Alprazolam (€30,394), crack cocaine (€17,520) and MDMA (€9,810).
There have also been a number of smaller seizures of cannabis resin, acid and ketamine.
- PICTURED ARE CANNABIS JELLIES WHICH WERE RECENTLY SIZED IN CORK