Cannabis prosecutions fall in Ireland as offenders let off with warnings

Cannabis prosecutions dropped significantly in Ireland last year, after the police were permitted to issue cautions for possession instead of court proceedings.

In 2020, 11,127 people were prosecuted for the possession of cannabis. By 14 December last year, this figure had fallen by 46 per cent to 5,957.

In December 2020, the Adult Cautioning Scheme was expanded to include cannabis possession for personal use.

‘Gravest threat’

The number of prosecutions for the sale and supply of cannabis also went down by 35 per cent, from 1,968 cases in 2020 to 1,283 cases by the middle of December 2021.

Cannabis: the “gravest threat” to young people’s mental health in Ireland

In addition, there were only 60 charges issued for the cultivation of cannabis or opium poppies, and fewer than ten summonses to court relating to the importation or exportation of cannabis.

Last year, the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland warned that the view that cannabis is ‘harmless’ was having “devastating effects”, and called the drug the “gravest threat” to young people’s mental health in Ireland.


Earlier this month, leading psychiatrist Sir Robin Murray warned parents of the clear link between smoking cannabis and psychosis.

The most common form of the drug today is skunk, which research has shown was responsible for 94 per cent of the cannabis confiscated by police in five areas of England in 2018 – compared to just over half in 2005.

Sir Robin, who has worked at the first NHS clinic in England specifically dedicated to cannabis smokers with psychosis, said skunk causes around a third of the psychosis cases he sees, with many of the patients – mostly young people – suffering hallucinations and paranoia.

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