Majority of GPs support legalising medicinal cannabis

Family doctors are opposed to a general decriminalisation of the drug, new survey says

Family doctors support the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, a new survey indicates.

Family doctors support the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, a new survey indicates.

 

Family doctors support the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use but are opposed to its general decriminalisation, a new survey indicates.

A majority of GPs have concerns about the effects of cannabis on mental health but also believe it has a therapeutic role, according to the online survey by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

Almost 60 per cent supported the legalisation of cannabis for medical use, while a similar proportion did not support its decriminalisation.

Male doctors were more than twice as likely to support decriminalisation compared to female doctors.

Four out of five of those surveyed agreed that cannabis use had a significant effect on patients’ mental health and 77 per cent said it increased the risk of schizophrenia.

However, more than 60 per cent said it could have a role in palliative care, pain management and the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Some 565 GPs took part in the survey, a response rate of just 15 per cent, but the authors said this was in line with similar studies undertaken in other countries. Co-author Dr Des Crowley said the survey, published in Harm Reduction Journal, gave a good insight into the views of GPs on the issue.

“General practitioners in Ireland see at first hand the impact of drug misuse and, like their international colleagues, believe that heavy use of cannabis in younger people can heighten the risk of dependence and mental health problems, including depression and schizophrenia.”

Bill

An Opposition Bill to legalise cannabis for medicinal purpose has been brought before the Dáil and referred to committee stage.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has sought a report from the Health Products Regulatory Authority on the issue before adopting a formal position on the issue.