A LOCAL man who lost two friends to drugs overdoses is appealing for the people of Pembrokeshire to participate in a government inquiry into alcohol and substance misuse before it’s too late.
The Welsh Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee is conducting a review into the recent surge of ‘legal highs’ in the country, as well as the wider issues of alcohol and substance misuse, and wants to hear the public’s views by January 9.
The committee, made up of ten Assembly Members, is inviting public responses on substance misuse, the law surrounding it and also the support available, and will be publishing its report later this month.
Sean McGhan, aged 25 from Pembroke Dock, suffered two bereavements when his friend Anthony Gammer died on July 26, 2013, aged 27, after taking a concoction of drugs including cannabis, dihydrocodeine, ketamine and diazepam.
Mr McGhan’s other close friend, Paul Dalling, died in 2013 at the untimely age of 24 after brewing a deadly tea using poppy seeds. The DJ from Milford Haven thought the drink would induce a pleasant drowsy effect, however after consuming a pint of the concoction his central nervous system shut down and he died in bed.
The inquest into Mr Dalling’s death heard that he drank the infusion and smoked cannabis before going for a night out with friends. The coroner’s conclusion into the unusual death, which warned of the dangerous effects of poppy tea, garnered national press attention when it was published last year.
Mr McGhan believes there is a strong case to legalise certain drugs, to ensure their safety, and says he thinks that providing better education to youngsters would undoubtedly save lives.
Explaining to the Herald why he is so keen for everyone to participate in the Government’s inquiry, Mr McGhan said: “Every experience with drugs is important to the overall decision as to how it’s all governed. We all have our own unique views and many have direct experiences that need to be heard and respected by the government, not just the habitual users but the medicinal users too. For example, my suffering Nan could be using cannabis if not for all the stigma resulting in a huge lack of research.
He added: “Cancer sufferer’s medicines are being used by kids because the patients need money to buy a working medicine like cannabis. Weed is everywhere anyway, just expensive and blatantly funds the black market even here in Pembrokeshire. Hard drugs are being used because users aren’t getting high off the now low quality commercial cannabis, nor are they educated not to use drugs. If it’s blatant to us but not the government maybe we should point it out to them with this unique opportunity they have offered us!”
“The government are running out of excuses on keeping the drugs stigma going. It’s true most people who don’t use drugs have absolutely no idea about them but those who use, or used them, know all too well of the dangers that follow drug use.”
McGhan said: “Anyone can send an email to the Welsh Government by January 9 by emailing [email protected] or you can write to The Clerk, Health and Social Care Committee, National Assembly for Wales, CF99 1NA.”
The terms of reference for the inquiry being conducted in Wales are, to consider:
- the impacts of alcohol and substance misuse on people in Wales, including young people and university students; older people; homeless people; and people in police custody or prisons;
- the effectiveness of current Welsh Government policies on tackling alcohol and substance misuse and any further action that may be required;
- the capacity and availability of local services across Wales to raise awareness and deal with the impact of the harms associated with alcohol and substance misuse.
A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “The National Assembly for Wales’ Health and Social Care Committee is a group of ten Assembly Members from across Wales who represent the four political parties who make up the Assembly. The Committee’s job is to hold the Welsh Government to account on health and social care within Wales, including finance, administration, policy and legislation.”
The spokesman added: “We have recently been doing some work on new psychoactive substances which are sometimes called legal highs – our report will be out in the New Year. We want to build on that work, and so we are now looking into issues of alcohol and substance misuse. As part of our inquiry, we want to know about the effect that alcohol and substance misuse has on people in Wales, how well these issues are currently being tackled, and whether the right local services are in place across Wales to help people and make sure that they know about the possible harms. Giving us your views will help us make sure that we can take into account how alcohol and substance misuse affects real people in Wales on a daily basis.”