Press Release

UK Cannabis Change should not be followed in Ireland -O´Malley

Junior Health Minister warns of mental health dangers associated with drug

Junior Health Minister Tim O´Malley is warning against the dangers of any move to reclassify cannabis in Ireland. O´Malley claims the recent decision by the UK authorities to downgrade cannabis to a Class C drug should not be repeated here.

Minister O´Malley, who has responsibility for the Mental Health portfolio, claims that the abuse of cannabis in Ireland is having a detrimental effect on the mental health of users and could see a rise in serious mental health problems in the years ahead.

“According to recent findings of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD), cannabis is the most widely abused drug in this country, with prevalence rates at least twice as high as other illegal drugs. This widespread abuse raises serious concerns about the damage being done to users, especially to teenagers and young adults.”

“Cannabis has been associated with the increased risk of developing schizophrenia in otherwise healthy individuals. The increase of risk is directly associated with an increase in frequency of use.”

O´Malley claims that the reclassification of Cannabis in the UK sends out the wrong message to users that this is a ´safe´ drug that can be used with impunity. “This is certainly not the case and recent research is suggesting strong links between psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia and other mental illnesses and the abuse of cannabis.”

“Greater education, as opposed to reclassification, must continue to be the Government´s response. Most young people remain unaware of the potential dangers to their mental health caused by using cannabis and think they can smoke this drug recreationally without any long-term consequences.”

“We must avoid any temptation to see cannabis as harmless or socially acceptable or we could face a serious increase in the number of mental health problems in this country in the years ahead.”