Over 3,000 people have been admitted to hospital in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) since 2018 due to cannabis use, new figures have shown.
In Health Service Executive (HSE) data seen by Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins, hospitalisations for mental and behavioural disorders related to the drug were up 25 per cent, from 526 in 2018 to 658 last year.
Earlier this year, a group of doctors accused the HSE of ignoring the “huge amount of avoidable misery” caused by cannabis, including record numbers of hospital admissions.
Deputy Higgins explained that synthetic versions of cannabis, “can greatly increase the risks of a drug emergency because they produce more intense adverse effects”.
She said that figures provided by HSE for the period 2018 to 2022 show there were 3,277 hospitalisations due to the use of cannabis.
Higgins added: “In the same timeframe there were 189 hospitalisations for poisoning due to the use of cannabis products.”
In February, three children were treated in hospital in Dublin after reportedly consuming synthetic cannabis sweets.
In a letter to The Irish Times in April, 21 specialist doctors said the authorities were failing to counteract “relentless pro-cannabis messaging” in the media.
Cannabis remains the “most common substance generating demand for addiction treatment by people under 25 years old”, the experts said.
“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.”
They added: “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”.