Cannabis, medicine and the law

Sir, – Over the past year or so there has been many letters to The Irish Times on both sides of the argument on the issue of decriminalisation, or even more controversially, legalisation of cannabis for adult use. There was much worry on the side of some medics caused by speculation that there may be, or would be, an increase in consumption of cannabis by teens by “normalising” the legal availability of cannabis for over-21s.

There is now no need for speculation any more – the facts of the matter are now in. According to a paper in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics published on July 8th, there was an 8 per cent drop in the number of teens using cannabis in the past 30days in states where cannabis was legalised for over-21s. (There was no such drop where legalisation was only for medical purposes.) The paper involved analysing data from 1993 to 2017 on about 1.4 million high-school students in the US. As with any large-scale epidemiological study it is often difficult to establish absolute cause and effect. However, the experts involved concluded that the most likely cause was the reduction in availability of cannabis to teens through street drug-dealers who were being pushed out of business by legitimate licensed, tax-paying vendors who rigidly apply the requirement for age verification.

This data clearly shows that if the medical establishment and the Government wishes to minimise harm to teens, they should urgently work together to introduce legislation for the availability of regulated, quality-controlled cannabis through licensed, taxpaying outlets to adults over 21 years of age. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 16.