Cocaine has become so prevalent in the Irish county of Galway that one government health official said the area is facing a “blizzard.” Last Monday, at a meeting for the county’s Joint Policing Commission (JPC), addiction specialist for Ireland’s Health Service Executive, Joe Treacy, further explained that the problem is the worst he’s seen in nearly three decades.
Treacy added that the problem with drugs and related crime in the county is the most terrible that he’s witnessed during his entire career as an addiction specialist in Ireland, the UK, and Australia.
“I’ve been working in this area for 28 years and Galway is the worst I have ever seen,” he said. “It is quite shocking. The level of criminality, the level of drug abuse, it’s very shocking. There will be a lost generation if we don’t engage with this as quickly as possible. The proliferation and the availability of drugs has never been as bad.”
Treacy said that screenings of drug users in the county have revealed cocaine that is 94 percent pure and a strain of cannabis from Morocco with unprecedented levels of THC. He also suggested that widespread drug testing following an average weekend would reveal the full extent of the problem.
“If we drug tested everybody on a Monday morning, we would have a lot of red faces,” he said. “It is so easy to access drugs at the moment. I don’t know of any village or small townland that drugs have not invaded.”
Treacy isn’t the only government official to float the idea of mass drug tests. The JPC’s Crime Prevention and Personal Safety sub-committee recommends that the Galway County Council and local police explore a way to implement random drug tests in schools. Councillor Michael Maher, the chairperson of the sub-committee, said that he believes such a policy would receive public support.
“I’m sure that hundreds of parents out there would not mind their children being tested for drugs,” he said. “I think 95 percent of parents would allow this to go ahead.”
Maher said that a local drug testing pilot program could eventually lead to a similar policy nationwide. But Councillor James Charity argued against the plan, saying that random drug testing is unconstitutional.
“It is an infringement on civil liberties,” he said. “There is an assumption that someone is guilty until proven innocent. If we start going into schools, where do you stop? Do we start going into workplaces?”
Maher later said that a school drug testing program would require the support of parents and administrators. In the meantime, the snow storm continues.