Top doctors group delivers warning to Government over cannabis use
One doctor has said that he sees cannabis patients on a "nearly weekly basis".
A group of specialist doctors has warned that the Government and HSE are failing to provide opposing information to what they describe as "relentless pro-cannabis messaging" within the media.
In the letter, the group of doctors stated that a "huge amount of avoidable misery" is being caused by improper use of the drug, including record figures in terms of hospital admissions, which they argue that the government is ignoring.
Included amongst the 21 doctors are specialists in addiction, emergency medicine, neurology, psychiatry and general practice.
With an upcoming Citizen's Assembly on drug usage, the group see the event as "an opportunity to move on from the endless conversation about legislation and to give renewed priority to the more important issues of prevention and treatment".
The Citizen's Assembly is set to be chaired by former HSE boss Paul Reid, who stepped down from his position earlier this year following a four year stint which saw Reid help oversee the HSE's Covid-19 pandemic response.
The releasing of the letter comes four years after a group including many of the same doctors, penned another which claimed that Ireland was "sleepwalking" into the legalisation of cannabis.
Now, four years on, the broadly similar group of top doctors have written to The Irish Times, in which they say that the health problems which stem from cannabis use "remain ignored".
In 2020, over 1,000 people were admitted to psychiatric hospitals in the state as a result of cannabis usage, with a further 22,000 people estimated as suffering from cannabis dependency.
"In spite of the evidence of substantial and increasing harms, the public perception of the harms of cannabis has continued to decline. This in turn drives up use... While there is unrelenting pro-cannabis messaging on social and traditional media, there has been little attempt by Government or HSE to counter this with factual information".
According to the doctors, cannabis has become a "bigger issue" than alcohol for those in the under-25 age demographic, arguing that a comprehensive public health campaign is needed to rectify the worsening scale of the problem.
"As doctors, we are growing tired of seeing young lives, and the lives of their families, being derailed by the use of this drug", the doctors group said.
Two former presidents of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) are included in the group, alongside the head of the school of medicine at Trinity College Dublin.
Dr. Ray Walley, former IMO president, has said that he sees new cannabis patients on a "nearly weekly basis", with the age at which they present ever-reducing.
The group further claimed that cannabis-related road traffic incidents and emergency department attendances due to use of the drug are on the rise.
However, the doctors have also said that they support the health diversion scheme introduced by Government last year and that they believe no one should be locked up for "simple drug possession".
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