There has been a “reversal” in the cannabis market in just four years, with stronger herbal cannabis now the dominant form of the drug consumed by regular users.
Medical experts said they are keeping an eye on the impact given herbal cannabis is generally more potent than cannabis resin, the traditional form of the drug in Ireland.
In what is the first finding of its type, taken from a survey conducted in 2010/2011, herbal cannabis accounted for 71% of cannabis consumed by current users.
A report published yesterday by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) said this “reversed” the situation in a previous survey in 2006/2007, when resin was the most common form.
“We have to keep an eye on it,” said Catherine Comiskey, chair of the NACDA, which conducted the survey and related study. “We won’t just put this on the shelf. We are asking what are the implications. Yes, we have found an increase in the herb, and this may reflect the grow houses.”
Garda figures show a massive rise in cannabis factories in recent years.
The plants are forced to grow at an accelerated rate and are generally more potent in terms of THC content (the active chemical) than resin.
Speaking at the report, drugs strategy minister Alex White said: “I would emphasise the dangers of cannabis use for physical and mental health, especially as the cannabis now available is much more potent than in the past.”
Prof Comiskey stressed the research showed that recent (last year use) and current use (last month) was stable over the three surveys between 2002/03 and 2010/11, at around 6% and 2.8% of 15-64-year-olds respectively.
Meanwhile, Customs officers seized a quantity of herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of €300,000 at Shannon Airport.
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