Anti-drugs campaigner warns of the imminent danger and says that hash ‘makes people paranoid’
“Cannabis is the most dangerous drug of all” and should not be legalised, according to Sr Consilio, the founder of Cuan Mhuire, which has treated thousands of substances abusers over the past 52 years.
She has seen the effects of cannabis. “People think it’s harmless but it’s the most destructive [drug] of all when it comes to people’s brains. Hash makes people paranoid,” she told The Irish Catholic.
On Monday, Cannabis Risk Alliance, a broad group of GPs and psychiatrists, warned that Ireland was being “led down the path of cannabis legalisation” which they vehemently opposed as being bad for Ireland, “especially for the mental and physical health of our young people”.
There were two separate debates, said the doctors: one to legalise cannabis for medicinal use, the second “criticising the use of criminal sanctions to deter people from using cannabis”. Decriminalisation and ‘medical cannabis’ campaigns had proven to be effective “Trojan horse” strategies on the road to full legalisation and commercialisation in places like Canada and the US, they pointed out.
Bishop Eamonn Walsh, Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Drugs Initiative, welcomed the intervention by Cannabis Risk Alliance: “There always has been a concern about the effect [of cannabis] on the brain and that it’s something that is going under the radar,” he told The Irish Catholic.
Bishop Walsh said he would welcome research based on the findings of GPs in their experience of cannabis users, especially among young people. He acknowledged that ‘medicinal cannabis’ under prescription benefitted some illnesses.
The Cannabis Risk Alliance said there was a “gross failure” to communicate the harms caused by cannabis.
Cannabis use, especially in adolescent years, is associated with “increased risk of development of severe mental disorders particularly psychosis”, and impairments to memory. “Cannabis smoke contains the same cocktails of carcinogens and toxins as tobacco smoke.”
While there was “limited evidence” that some cannabis products had medical benefits for a “very small number of conditions” they said this had been “grossly distorted” to imply “the cannabis plant in its entirety can be considered a ‘medicine’”.
The Department of Health has denied that it plans to legalise cannabis but is “considering alternative approaches to criminal sanctions for the possession of drugs for personal use, with a view to treating substance misuse and drug addiction as a public health issue”.
However media reports say proposals to liberalise the laws on cannabis and other illegal drugs will come before Cabinet within weeks.
Asked if there should be a public health campaign highlighting the risks of cannabis, Sr Consilio said anything with a “serious and dangerous” consequence should be made known. Cuan Mhuire, has five centres in Ireland for 475 residents.