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Irish GPs Support MMJ Use but Not Decriminalization

The majority of Irish general practitioners support the legalization of cannabis for medicinal use, but do not support the decriminalization policies of the Irish government, according to an Irish College of General Practitioners survey outlined by the Irish Examiner. The survey, published in the Harm Reduction Journal, found that general practitioners with advanced addiction training and male GPs were more likely to support liberal cannabis policies.

More than three out of five GPs agreed that cannabis therapies have a role in pain management, palliative care, and multiple sclerosis treatment. However, 77.3 percent indicated that cannabis use has a “significant effect” on the mental health of patients and puts users at an increased risk of schizophrenia.

About 40 percent of male GPs surveyed supported cannabis legalization, compared to 14 percent of their female counterparts.

Dr. Des Crowley, assistant program director for the ICGP’s Substance Misuse Program, said he hopes the survey “will be considered” as policymakers determine future cannabis legislation.

“General practitioners see at first hand the impact of drug misuse, and like their international colleagues, believe that heavy use of cannabis in younger people can heighten the risk of dependence and mental health problems, including depression and schizophrenia,” Crowley said in the report.

The study echoes the beliefs of proponents and opponents worldwide, suggesting that “ongoing research into the health and other effects of drug policy changes on cannabis use is required.”

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