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Legal Highs & Terrorism

By John Clarke

This past week, there has been a series of devastating firebomb attacks on a number of pubs in the centre of Birmingham. These attacks were carried out by a militant Islamic group seeking to put an end to the “evils of alcohol”, as it is forbidden by their religion. In the weeks leading up to the attacks, each of the pubs targeted was issued a warning by the group, threatening serious consequences for those that didn’t shut down immediately. Other pubs in Birmingham have received a similar warning.

EthanolThe group has received sympathy and support from those addicted to the drug and the family and friends of those affected by alcohol.

Alcohol is a volatile and extremely flammable liquid that is used as an industrial solvent. Users commonly mix it with other liquids, or “soft drinks”, to mask the unpleasant taste and to prevent chemical burns to their mouth and throat. This mixture is referred to as a “hard drink”, drawing attention to the underlying violence and aggression associated with Britain’s depraved drink culture. Side effects such as dizziness, confusion, headaches and depression are reported by the majority of drinkers, especially following large doses.

The attacks have highlighted the addictive nature of alcohol and the danger it poses to society. Birmingham officials have responded by calling for the closure of all pubs in the city and trying to fast track legislation for a nationwide ban on alcohol.


Ahhhhhhhhh, just kidding! Kind of.

If you replace Birmingham with Ireland, militant Islamic group with paramilitary “vigilante” group known as the “Republican Action Against Drugs”, pub with headshop and alcohol with legal highs, then this is exactly the kind of bullshit story you might have read about these past few weeks.

Basically, a load of illegal drug dealers thinly veiled as a vigilante group are going round burning headshops down and in one case shooting someone who sold legal highs from his shop. These are acts of terrorism.

First off, the fact that these people are illegal drug dealers is speculation, but since half a million euros was found in the burnt out husk of just one of these headshops, it’s not hard to find a motive. They claim they’re against drugs in general, but no one who feels that drugs are so morally wrong would go out and shoot someone – a far more immoral crime. They’re either completely moral, completely immoral or completely nuts. The situation is chillingly similar to that Christian loon who shot that abortion doctor in the US.

"Hey! Guys! Get a hit of this crazy shit! Bring crisps."

That aside, the biggest issue is how these blatant acts of terrorism are being reported.  Just like my bullshit news story above (c’mon, you fell for it at least for a few seconds, right?), the reports on these headshop fires and shootings somehow manage to segue past the whole terrorism thing to focus on just how bad for us these shops are. Check out these quotes from the Irish Times:

On Friday, the Nirvana head shop and a number of neighbouring outlets on Capel Street were destroyed in a fire which began around the same time local residents reported hearing a loud bang coming from the outlet at 6am on Friday.

Gardaí are treating the Capel Street fire as arson although the exact cause of the blaze may never be known because most of the building has had to be demolished for safety reasons.

Although a link between the two fires has not yet been established there has been speculation that the incidents are related to a widespread campaign to outlaw such outlets.

Regulations which will outlaw a range of products sold as legal highs in head shops across the State are expected to be introduced later this year.

However, Mr Costello today called for legislation to be brought forward to outlaw such products within weeks.

“There has been real anger in the local community over the failure of the authorities to act in relation to head shops because a lot of young people around the area are customers buying products from them which mimic illegal drugs.

“It certainly seems too much of a coincidence that there has been two such fires within days, and there is a real concern that these shops are being targeted, and there is a worry that not enough action is being taken either to stop the selling of these products or to protect people living near head shops who could be hurt in a fire,” he added. (My emphasis)

What the hell, Mr Costello? Go and catch these terrorists! Not only does no one seem to care, but banning these products literally diverts more profit to people that support this kind of senseless violence..

3 Responses to Legal Highs & Terrorism

  1. Sharon says:

    I agree-it is terrorism. It reminds me of when I was living in Ireland and the IRA took it upon themselves to kill lots of cannabis dealers (not just cannabis dealers, other drugs too; I mention the pot dealers particularly because I had lovely pot dealer acquaintances in Belfast and I was very worried about them); they said that they were taking Direct Action Against Drugs to protect the young people. However “Security sources say that many IRA commanders, while publicly cracking down on small-time dealers, are happy enough to turn a blind eye to most drug trading in their areas, so long as the main operators are paying sizeable sums in protection money. The approach differs from area to area.”

    Just google ‘IRA shot cannabis dealers in Belfast’ and see the list of links that comes up.

    Would Costello and Reilly (from the recent Irish Times article) deny that these guys were terrorists? No, they wouldn’t/couldn’t. So how are the actions of these arsonists any different? I can’t see a difference myself.

    Quoting from the Irish Times article, Dr Reilly said,

    “Must we wait until some one dies after taking a substance on sale in a head shop? Or is it the Government’s strategy to hope that they burn down one by one? This has been going on long enough, and it is well past time that we use the mechanisms at our disposal to protect our young people from this serious health threat”.

    Yes Reilly, fire is indeed one of the most serious health threats on the planet. We need to protect those engaged in legal activities from the actions of arsonists. Arson is illegal after all.

    Personally I’ve only heard of two people dying of a legal high; that batch of 2CB-Fly from Haupt-RC. On analysis this turned out to be because the chemical was misidentified, and was in fact the much stronger bromo-dragonfly.

    I was impressed at how quickly those affected took responsible action by reporting it to erowid and the Drugs Forum. Pity the government doesn’t follow suit and warn people about bisphenol-A, another legal chemical used in the making of polycarbonate plastic bottles and the linings of food cans. I mention BPA because I’ve just been researching and writing an article about it-scary. I dread to think how many other monstrous chemicals are in the food chain, having been passed as legal additives in the 60s.

    I’ve lost 3 dear friends in 2009, all dead due to the effects of legal substances; 2 to alcohol; the other was addicted to alcohol, pharmaceuticals and methadone; (he died 2 weeks before his daughter was born). Devastating.

    Also, you know of course about the hell that Jonathan Sloan of Bouncing Bear Botanicals has recently been subjected too, courtesy of the FDA and the local cops. More terrorism

  2. Synchronium says:

    Hi Sharon. Not seen you around for a while, thought I’d offended you or something!

    All great points. I considered writing about the Haupt RC fuck-up and the Jon Sloan thing at the time they both happened, but never got round to it (I’m a lazy bastard).

    The bromodragonfly situation was handled amazingly well by the community. Probably the best case of drug users being responsible on such a large scale!

    It seems Jon got raided not for anything he was actually charged for, but because of his large quantity of synthetic cannabinoid-based smoking mixture, K2. Since they couldn’t touch him on that, they made up a bunch of other shit. According to a source from the US (who wishes to remain anonymous):

    FDA has come up with a bogus, made up, non existing law, which they are using to seize any “Incense” product nationwide. According to them, ANY substance listed as “drug of concern” by the DEA requires an FDA license to import or sell. They are using this to stop JWH sales, but according to this non existing law, Salvia also falls into the same category, as well as Kratom and any other legal plant which has ended up on the DEA’s List of Drugs of Concern.

    Terrorism indeed!

  3. Sharon says:

    Sorry I made you think you’d offended me you barm-pot (not meant to be an offensive term-more a term of endearment). It’s been a uninspiring end to 2009/start to 2010, (I could do with some rejuvenating magic mushrooms), but still I’m always happy to see my Synchronium newsletter in the inbox.

    That is very bad news about the made-up, non-existent law which the FDA are using to steal ‘Incense’ products. It must be a big worry for Eroc, for one.

    The FDA, What a bunch of _ _ _ _ S. They can’t even conduct their own research scientifically. When I was researching bisphenol-A, I read this letter, from Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Centre for Women and Families ( It’s addressed to the Science Board, on Bisphenol-A Use in Food Contact Applications. Here’s an extract,

    “We are pleased that the FDA plans to do a new study of BPA levels in cans of infant formula. This decision responds to criticisms we made in September, echoed by the Science Board subcommittee on BPA, that the safety levels for infant formula were based on an inadequate sample-a sample of infant formula that was outdated, too small, and not generalizable to a national sample.”

    And another one,

    “The FDA is proposing new research using Sprague-Dawley rats. The use of Sprague-Dawley rats was criticized at the Science Board subcommittee meeting because those rats are inappropriate for use in BPA research: they are less sensitive to estrogens than other types of rats. If the FDA’s goal is to do objective research, these are not the right rats to use.”

    Governmental level scientists conducting unscientific research-I ask you, would you have got away with this at uni? I doubt it.

    BPA is far more worrying than any kratom, salvia etc because it affects everyone in the world, including foetuses (htf do you spell that word?) and wildlife. Researchers in ecotoxicogenomics took samples of polluted water from the Tamagawa river in Japan and by using cloning etc (have to gloss over this bit because I don’t understand ecotoxicogenomic methodology) and found,

    “In the freshwater snail, Marisa cornuarietis, BPA and octylphenol (OP) at concentrations as low as 1 μg/L induced development of an additional vagina, enlargement of the accessory pallial sex glands, and enhancement of oocyte production.”


    “In the marine prosobranch, Nucella lapillus, the same concentrations of BPA and OP reduced the length of the penis and the size of the prostate gland”

    Despite not being a scientist myself, this, and other research, seems to suggest that these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (BPA is a xenoestrogen) have the potential to feminize males, thus disrupting the ecological balance. Will the FDA raid all of the shops that sell BPA contaminated polycarbonate water bottles, food cans and liquid baby milk cans? No, they won’t; they’re too busy wasting resources and time terrorising vendors of herbs. Drugs of Concern indeed.

    I’m getting angry now; I’d better stop and make a cup of tea. Sorry for getting on me BPA soapbox.

    Keep well and give my love to Jo 🙂

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