The ICGP holds the position that while there is evidence pointing to potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana and cannabinoids, the public health and societal impacts of cannabis cannot be overlooked. The clinical director of ICGP, Dr. Diarmuid Quinlan, emphasized that cannabis is risky and can pose significant health issues for the public.
The ICGP is notably urging those in at-risk categories, such as young people, individuals with a personal or family history of mental disorder, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women, to steer clear of cannabis. They have also called for more rigorous monitoring by the HSE and Department of Health to assess the immediate and longer-term effects of cannabis on its users.
In the conversation around cannabis usage, the ICGP highlighted an essential need for an increased emphasis on investigating patients in emergency departments and hospitals, alongside impacts such as impaired driving and workforce performance. They noted that there should be more focus on cannabis-related incidents such as worker injuries and safety hazards and the prevalence of psychiatric and addictive disorders, including what is known as ‘cannabis-use disorder’.
The group endorsed a strong effort toward prevention campaigns and resources that can help reduce initiation and frequency of cannabis use. This is particularly important among adolescents, women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy, and against cannabis-influenced driving.
However, the ICGP does not completely disregard the proponents of cannabis legalization. It supports proposals that would refer people in possession of drugs for personal use for a health assessment, given the availability of proper resources.
This coming weekend, the Citizens’ Assembly will meet to deliberate on a range of issues surrounding drugs, with the aim to make recommendations to the Government. The deliberations will conclude with a series of questions to be voted upon, which will then form the basis of the final report from the Assembly, expected to be submitted to the Oireachtas by year-end.
The Chair of the Assembly, Paul Reid, spoke in anticipation of the final meeting. He reflected on the past six months of deliberations that served as the most comprehensive review of Ireland’s existing drug laws and policy. This exercise included numerous presentations, hundreds of hours of thoughtful discussions, and review of nearly 800 submissions received during the open public consultation process.
As this topic stirs up more conversation, it’s essential to remember that the aim here is not to demonize or endorse cannabis blindly. Instead, it serves as a call to provide public safety and health while acknowledging the potential therapeutic benefits that cannabis may hold for some. It’s an urging for balance – keeping the public safe and informed, while revising the laws to reflect the evolving understanding of drugs and their effect.