Before we get out the pitchforks let’s educate ourselves

This week I received some astonishing emails regarding headshops. Obviously, and understandably, locals are concerned about headshops, especially since there’s a lot of misinformation and scaremongering going on out there.

I’ve had emails and phone calls to this newsroom with crazy accusations flying about the kinds of products on sale in these shops. Slandering these headshops isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. If anything, slinging mud at these shops is only going to make our young people more intrigued and curious about their products.

Instead of getting out the pitchforks and tourches out perhaps concerned parents should educate themselves on what these shops are really selling. To help us, a conference entitled Exploring the Legal Highs of Headshops will take place in Mullingar Park Hotel on Tuesday January 26 from 10.30am to 4pm. The conference is a joint initiative among the 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces that work regionally to co-ordinate a response to substance misuse.

Minister of State John Curran for the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs with special responsibility for community affairs and the National Drugs Strategy will officially open the conference. Keynote speakers on the day include Dr Jean Long, head of Alcohol and Drug Research Unit, Health Research Board; Dr Bobby Smyth, consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; Mr Noel O’Connor, services manager, Training Research and Social Policy, Merchants Quay Ireland; and Dr Des Corrigan, chairperson of National Advisory Committee on Drugs and director of School of Pharmacy, Trinity College Dublin.

The overall aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity for service providers to consider and discuss the social and health risks associated with the establishment of headshops in Ireland.

This is the perfect oppporutinity for us all to learn a little and become better educated so instead of making uneducated judgements we can at least have the knowledge to back up our opinions. Then we can go about the difficult task of educating our young people without coming across like pitchfork-wielding auld ones. Because we know how much teenagers love when adults tell them what not to do!

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