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CBD dispensary owner charged with having cannabis for sale



The owner of a city shop which dispenses products containing derivatives of the cannabis plant, has been charged with drug dealing offences – following the seizure of an estimated €120,000 worth of cannabis at his business premises and at his home last year.

James O’Brien (41) of Portacarron, Oughterard, runs the Little Collins CBD dispensary with his wife at 25 Upper Abbeygate Street, Galway.

Mr O’Brien appeared before Galway District Court charged with having cannabis in his possession at the shop and again at his home in Portacarron on May 10, 2019.

He was also charged with having cannabis for sale or supply to another at both locations on the same date.

Sergeant Aoife Curley, prosecuting, said the value of the drugs seized was €80,000 at the first location and €40,000 at the second.  The DPP had directed the charges be dealt with at District Court level, she said.

Judge Fahy was amazed the DPP should direct the charges involving such a large value be kept in the District Court.

Sgt. Curley explained that although the value of the drugs seized was extremely high, it involved a different type of cannabis which had a very low threshold for potency.

“Some would argue this type of cannabis is legal,” she said.

Judge Fahy said she now understood the DPP’s decision.  “The cannabidiol, which is legal, does not have the ingredient that gives the ‘high’ that ‘normal’ cannabis gives, but if it does give that ‘high’ it’s illegal,” she said.

Defence solicitor, Sean Acton, said the legal situation pertaining to the type of cannabis seized from his client was ‘a minefield’.

“This is a matter that will end up elsewhere.  Customs know that.  It’s about THC (the psycho-active chemical in cannabis).  Anything less than 0.3% which is the European standard is legal, but Ireland has not adopted that law yet.

“There is a lacuna in the (Irish) law. This was 0.2%,” he said.

Judge Fahy asked if this had been a shop setting; Sgt. Curley clarified it was a shop and also a home setting. She said the charges read ‘cannabis’ – because it was cannabis.

Mr Acton said the substance had been tested abroad and was below the European law threshold (of 0.3%), but, he said, Irish law does not differentiate.

There is confusion over the legality and sale of Cannabidiol in Ireland.

Unlike other derivatives of the cannabis plant, CBD is not psychoactive and is legal in most European countries. However, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, all derivatives of cannabis and hemp containing THC are illegal in Ireland – even if they contain only trace amounts.

Mr Acton said the substance was imported because it could be imported from one EU State into another EU State and it was legal.

He said a decision was due this month in the European Court about this matter.

Judge Fahy said this was not “a classic Section 15 (drug dealing) charge” and that was why the DPP had directed it be dealt with in the District Court.

“It’s the first here in Galway but I have heard about it with regards to the ingredient,” Judge Fahy added.

Mr Acton said he would in time be bringing a legal challenge against the State and he applied to the court to have the matter adjourned.

Judge Fahy accepted jurisdiction to deal with the case in her court and she remanded Mr O’Brien on continuing bail to appear back before the court again on March 1, to give Mr Acton time to look into the legality of the issue and clarify European law.
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Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault



Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Council turns down controversial phone mast plan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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