(Note : I have earlier looked at the Drugs and Dublin in the 1960s here)
In light of the Dáil recently passing a bill to make cannabis available in Ireland for medicinal use, we thought we would share this enlightening newspaper article from nearly fifty years ago.
On the 31st of January 1968, a 22 year-old “bearded young man” was caught with £5 of Cannabis resin in Rice’s pub beside St. Stephen’s Green. He was a part-time actor who had recently failed his final English literature university exams.
In front of District Justice Farrell in April, he told the court:
In my opinion, I have done no wrong in so far as I consider it to be inevitable that cannabis resin will be legalised within the next few years, and taking into account that it is a non-addictive drug and that I have not at any stage given it to anyone who had not previously taken the drug and who was old enough and intelligent enough to know what they are doing.
He went on even further talking about “more enlightened times” while also refusing to name his friend and supplier.
I have answered clearly and truthfully all questions, with the exception of one – what my source is.Were my source one of those infamous people who capitalise on the weakness of others by selling such habit-forming drugs as could ruin the lives of those indulge in them, I would have no qualms about giving you such information …However in view of the fact that this is not the fact, and neither my source nor I make any profit from Indian hemp, and bearing in mind the certainty that in more enlightened times which are fast approaching, the charges brought against me now will seem ludicrous as would a charge of possessing cigarettes containing nicotine at the present time. I consider myself a victim of circumstances.
Detective Sergeant Dennis ‘Dinny’ Mullins, who made the arrest accompanied by fellow Drugs Squad member Garda Con Murphy and Garda Christopher Keane from Dundrum station, told the Court about the drug’s effects:
It exhilarates, makes you happy, forget your troubles, and some say it gives a clearer insight into things, a writer, clearer thoughts for example.
The young man felt giving his friend’s name would not help the police:
When questioned I have, and shall continue, to refuse to reveal my friend’s name. In doing so, I have taken into consideration both the responsibility one has to the State and the loyalty one owes to a friend. The revelation of my friend’s name would not help in anyway to bring the Gardai nearer in their search to any ring, as such, which may exist for the sale of either cannabis or other more dangerous gigs.
In order to avoid a “fairly severe fine” and prison sentence, the student agreed to give up the drug and was given a remand for three months.
The drug was handed over to the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland to be used for “experiments”.
He also made an appeal to the journalists present in the court not to reveal his name or address as this would “undoubtedly lead” to problems finding employment and accommodation. Interestingly, The Irish Times compiled with his plea but the Irish Press and the Irish Independent refused.
As this individual, if hopefully still alive and healthy, would be 70 years old – we feel reprinting the article with his name shouldn’t have any damaging effects.
We’d love to know what happened to him. So if you know a William or John O’Sullivan who studied English Literature and born about 1948 – get in touch!