Cannabis perceptions to be tackled

An awareness campaign is needed to correct the attitude that cannabis is relatively harmless, a drug taskforce has said.

Dublin’s north inner city drug task force is planning a local campaign to educate people about the newer, and more potent, forms of cannabis.

The taskforce — which traditionally worked to combat the use of hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine — is now setting up a series of workshops to address perceptions about cannabis.

This follows anecdotal reports and a recent online survey of drug projects highlighting the issue of high-strength cannabis.

Taskforce co-ordinator Mel MacGiobúin said: “From a general community point of view — particularly young people and older people — they refer to anything cannabis-based as hash [the traditional resin form of cannabis].

“There’s a tendency not to see it so much as a problem given the wider context of harder drugs, like heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine.

“We do hear from projects that high-strength cannabis — weed and skunk — is having a very big impact, particularly on young people and particularly mixed with other drugs.

“A series of workshops for community projects and the wider community will be commencing this autumn to draw attention to this, highlight the risks and dangers, and the potency of these drugs. We will also be using social media.

Figures published in the Irish Examiner recently showed that by May of this year, over €32m worth of cannabis herb and plant had been seized, compared to €10m worth of resin.

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