Dr Bobby Smyth, who works with teenagers who have problem drug-use, spoke as a high-level State working group is due this month to report to the Government on the issue.
Dr Smyth told the Irish Examiner that all the risks associated with liberalising drug laws “were on the downside”.
He said public attitudes towards cannabis had “softened” at a time when the harm caused by it had “exacerbated”. He said that was reflected in sharp rises in treatment figures.
An analysis of new cases (the best indicator of current trends) for the treatment of cannabis as a main problem drug, gathered by the Health Research Board, shows:
An 81% rise in cases among those under the age of 18, from 216, in 2006, to 391, in 2016;
An 85% jump among those aged 18-24 year olds, from 344 to 635;
A 50% increase among 25-34 year olds, from 187 to 280;
A 76% rise among all age groups, from 813 to 1,452.
Source: Cormac O'Keeffe, Irish Examiner, 12th March 2019