A letter to the Irish Times.
A letter signed by 20 doctors attempts to address a wide range of controversial issues, among them adolescent cannabis use, medicinal cannabis and legalisation and/or decriminalisation of cannabis for so-called recreational use (Letters, May 20th).
It is estimated that 90 per cent of people who use cannabis do not seem to develop any major problems with it (other than the fact that the drug they usually use it with (ie tobacco) is likely to cause them far greater harm and significantly contribute to their cause of death. As health advocates we take the issue of tobacco, alcohol and all drug related harm seriously.
The central point of the Amy 20th letter appears to be that there is a lack of awareness particularly among young people of the potential harm of cannabis use. No evidence is presented to support this statement. In fact, a motion was passed last year at the Irish Medical Organisation AGM to urge the Government to review both the positive and negative effects of cannabis, and we understand that a report is about to be published and the Government is planning to introduce new legislation.
The May 20th letter calls for a media campaign to highlight the dangers of cannabis. Research internationally, over many decades, has shown that many youth education programmes are ineffective and may actually cause more harm than good. Education is vital but we need to learn how to talk to young people about the effects of drugs and explore why they take drugs rather than continuing to preach the message of “Just Say No”.
We appreciate that this is a contentious issue with opinions polarised regarding the best solution. The Government made a statement recently that it had no plans to legalise cannabis, although countries such as Canada, parts of the US, Uruguay and Mexico have legalised cannabis as politicians, health and drug policy experts in those countries have decided that fighting a war on cannabis causes more harm than good. The outcomes so far in these countries do not show that cannabis use has increased significantly or that it is causing greater harm and the evaluations to date have been positive, both from a health perspective and financially.
Source: The Irish Times, 05/06/19