Morning Ireland: Dr Gerry McCarney on cannabis and harms to young people
Speaking to Morning Ireland in advance of the conference Cannabis and Adolescence: From Science to Clinical Practice, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Gerry McCarney discussed misconceptions around cannabis addiction and the effects of cannabis on young people.
You can listen to the full interview here.
Speaking on the common misconception that cannabis is not physically addictive, Dr McCarney noted that the medical view on this has shifted:
There is a physical withdrawal syndrome associated with trying to come off cannabis. It’s certainly worse now because we’re seeing much higher potency cannabis available. It’s much stronger [than back in the day], people have more significant withdrawal syndrome, including physical symptoms for up to two weeks after.
As a Child and Adolescent psychiatrist, Dr McCarney spoke about the effects cannabis use has on the lives of young people when they present to his service:
We’re seeing a lot of young people coming in where cannabis is having an impact not just on how they are feeling, but on how they perform; and then you might say the more ‘soft’ harm, but which is significant harm, in relationships within the family, performance in school, and ultimately the impact on their career and their future.
Dr McCarney also spoke on the focus of the discussion at today’s conference:
What gets lost in the debate about whether we should legalise, decriminalise or de-penalise is the fact that cannabis is not good for you. It is a harmful substance. The more you use, the worse that impact. The earlier you start, the worse that impact. For a small group it can lead to significant long-term chronic illness. For those who don’t become unwell, it can have a huge impact on your future.
The interview also touched on presumption that legalisation would reduce crime, and findings in the United States that challenge this presumption following legalisation in certain states.