Cannabis is the "gravest threat" to the mental health of young people, College of Psychiatrists Ireland says
"We know that its potency has spiked in recent years."
The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPsychI) has warned that cannabis represents the “gravest threat to the mental health of young people in Ireland today”.
It said the combination of increasingly potent strains of the drug and a widespread conception among the public that it is generally harmless have had devastating effects.
The CPsychI issued the warning as part of a new public health awareness campaign, saying the cannabis available today is not the same as people might remember from 20 or 30 years ago.
In a new report, the college said hospital admissions of young people with a cannabis-related diagnosis have quadrupled over a 12-year period.
It has called for the government to conduct an urgent review into cannabis use in Ireland and has also begun its own information campaign on the dangers of cannabis.
“Cannabis represents the gravest threat to the mental health of young people in Ireland today," Dr William Flannery, President of the CPsychI and Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist, said.
"It is by far the most widely used illegal drug in the country and we know that its potency has spiked in recent years, leading to a significant rise in hospital admissions among young people with a cannabis-related diagnosis.
"However, despite this, there is still a general feeling among the public that the drug is mostly harmless. This conception needs to be challenged at every turn because psychiatric services are under huge pressure due to this problem.”
Commenting on the potential detrimental effects of the drug on young people in particular, Dr Gerry McCarney, Consultant Child and Adolescent Addiction Psychiatrist, added: “Adolescents are at particular risk from mind-altering substances such as cannabis as their brains have not fully developed.
"Cannabis can be hugely damaging to young people, affecting their ability to learn social and problem-solving skills, while potentially stunting cognitive ability and general emotional intelligence."