Health chief: ‘Legalising drugs will add to Ireland’s drug problem’

Legalising drugs will make Ireland’s problems worse, its Chief Medical Officer has warned.

Addressing the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use (CAD), Professor Breda Smyth said legalisation would normalise drug use and detract from the serious harm they cause.

The head of Ireland’s fight against organised crime recently told CAD that liberalising drug laws risked a surge in open use with significant social consequences.

Multiple dangers

In her address, Prof Smyth referred to the impact of drug use on public health, including “a considerable number of premature deaths”, hospitalisations, and a steady rise in drug related psychiatric admissions.

She continued: “The data available on cannabis use is of grave concern. One in five adults who use cannabis are likely to have a dependence on it, and one in three young people are likely to become addicted if they use cannabis weekly or more often.”

“Cannabis can cause addiction”, she stated. And she reported “45,000 people with cannabis-use disorders in the latest data” with under-18s accounting for “80 per cent of new presentations to our cannabis addiction treatment services”.

Also speaking at the event, Psychiatrist Prof Bobby Smyth – who works in adolescent addiction services – said drug dependency “derails young lives, is associated with significant mental health issues and damages family relationships”.

‘Grave concerns’

Last month, the head of Ireland’s fight against organised crime told CAD that liberalising Ireland’s drug laws would have significant social consequences.

Assistant Commissioner Justin Kelly said the Garda Síochána “has grave concerns around any potential legalisation of controlled drugs”, which are “based on the implications for the whole of our society”.

He also warned that reports from the Americas show that legalisation “will not remove the influence of organised crime groups”, and they “will continue to maintain the illicit black market undercutting legal prices and increasing strengths of drugs”.

Kelly previously highlighted Ireland’s “insatiable appetite” for cocaine and warned that legalising illicit drugs risked a surge in open use.

Also see:

Illegal drug use sanctioned in Glasgow

Scotland’s Lord Advocate ready to ‘turn blind eye’ on illegal drug use

French study: ‘One in ten cardiac intensive care patients on cannabis’