survey finds irish doctors support decriminalisation of cannabis with 5 regular consumers 219123

Survey finds Irish doctors support decriminalisation of cannabis, with 5% ‘regular’ consumers


Of those surveyed, 8% say they currently use cannabis and 5% using it regularly. 
The post Survey finds Irish doctors support decriminalisation of cannabis, with 5% ‘regular’ consumers appeared first on Cannabis Health News. 


A new survey has found that a majority of Irish doctors support decriminalising personal use of cannabis, with some admitting to consuming it regularly themselves. 

An anonymous survey, carried out by the Irish Medical Times (IMT), has revealed that more than half (54%) of doctors support the decriminalisation of small quantities of the drug for personal use. 

While 95% believed drug use has a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of their patients, 60% said consumers should receive treatment within the health system, instead of being criminalised. 

Most identified alcohol as the drug which causes the most harm (43%), followed by cocaine at 31%. Over a third of respondents reported that their families had experienced adverse effects due to drug use, with alcohol accounting for 63% of these cases.

The survey was conducted on a representative sample of 89 doctors, including GPs and specialist consultants, to gather their personal opinions on medicinal cannabis and drug use in general. Respondents were asked to give their Medical Council number to prove they were a registered doctor.

Terence Cosgrave, editor of IMT, said until now doctors have never been asked about their personal views on drugs in such a way. 

“[Our findings] show that, while some doctors in the establishment use their positions of power to rail against cannabis legalisation, in fact, the medical profession as a whole takes a much more nuanced and balanced view,” he told Cannabis Health.

“There is a strong move towards support for decriminalisation, particularly of things like cannabis.”

“Some people objected to giving their Medical Council number, but we didn’t change the rules. We were looking for people to put themselves out there, to see how many people were going to say ‘actually, I use cannabis and I’m proud of it’.”

5% of doctors use cannabis regularly 

In total, 37% of the doctors surveyed admitted to having tried cannabis, with 8% saying they currently use it and 5% using it regularly. 

Cosgrave continued: “We’ve found that 5% of doctors use cannabis regularly. I would say it’s much more than that, but they obviously don’t want to own up to it as it would be frowned upon by their colleagues.”

The survey was advertised in both the digital and print editions of IMT and while the sample size is relatively small, Cosgrave says it is representative and accounts for reasonable percentage of the Irish medical profession.

“As it’s a small sample size, I’m not taking this as this is the definitive view, but it does show things that previously would have been denied,” he added.

“If we spoke to some representatives of the medical establishment they would tell us that no doctor would use marijuana and if they did, they should be struck off. That’s just not true. Doctors are using cannabis, and their using some other drugs too.”

Widespread support for access to medicinal cannabis 

When it comes to the medicinal use of cannabis, those surveyed overwhelmingly supported legal access (80%), with 56% saying they would prescribe it. The most common conditions which they would be willing to prescribe for were pain management,  epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, anxiety, and depression.

The Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) enrolled its first patients in Ireland in 2021, but to date only around 40 have been able to access cannabis through this route. Prescriptions are limited to specific products for a certain number of conditions, including intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, severe treatment-resistant epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Cosgrave said doctors in Ireland are generally in favour of cannabis being more widely available for medicinal use.

“The figures absolutely support that,” he said.

“We gave them the option to add comments and one doctor actually said, ‘don’t medicalise this, just allow people to buy if they need it.’ I think that is very representative.”

Is Ireland edging towards reform?

The findings come as a Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use is underway in Ireland, made up of 99 members of the public, which will make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas on the country’s drug policy. 

Following just two meetings of the Assembly, experts recently told Cannabis Health that decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use is likely to be a key recommendation.

Cosgrave seems to be in agreement.

He said: “Cannabis is everywhere in Ireland, so is cocaine. So how do you deal with that? The old conservative medical establishment says you ban everything, you bring the full force of the law down. But the more progressive medical professionals – and I would say that is a good number of people in our survey, and generally – would say you need to empower people to make their own decisions.”

Commenting on the survey, Brendan Minish, an activist and drug reform advocate in Ireland, said the findings were ‘positive’, but there were still issues to be addressed in relation to stigma in the Irish medical establishment. 

“I wonder to what extent this represents a recent shift in opinion or rather, finally someone asked doctors what they think in an anonymous way so they can answer honestly without risking career opportunity and being stigmatised by peers,” he said.

“There is still the major problem of ‘fundamentalism’ in Irish Psychiatry. Cannabis has been used as a scapegoat for a good number of years now. I do think at some stage a major scandal of some kind or other will emerge.”

Want more stories like this delivered direct to your inbox? Sign up to our free weekly newsletter here 

Cannabis decriminalisation doesn’t increase road traffic accidents, finds studyDecriminalisation likely to be ‘key recommendation’ of Ireland Citizens’ Assembly on drugsIreland to debate decriminalising cannabis for personal useFresh moves to reform Ireland’s cannabis laws a welcome ‘first step’Three in five Scots support more liberal cannabis laws

The post Survey finds Irish doctors support decriminalisation of cannabis, with 5% ‘regular’ consumers appeared first on Cannabis Health News.


Read More 

Cannabis Health News 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.