This article originally appeared at https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/anonymous-survey-finds-support-among-irish-doctors-for-use-of-cannabis/a826718194.html
The Irish Medical Times survey revealed 37pc of doctors have tried cannabis, while a majority, 54pc, support the decriminalisation of small quantities of the drug for personal use. It also showed 8pc of doctors use cannabis — with 5pc using it “regularly”.
The anonymous survey involved 89 Irish doctors — including GPs, emergency department doctors, and specialists — and aimed to gather opinions and experiences regarding drug use, both personally and professionally.
When it came to addressing drug use in Irish society, 60pc of the doctors surveyed believed drug users should receive treatment within the health system, instead of being processed through the criminal courts.
However, only 43pc supported the decriminalisation of heroin, cocaine, and other drugs, on the proviso that users undergo treatment.
The survey also revealed 95pc of doctors believed drug use has a negative impact on the health and well-being of their patients, highlighting the consequences of addiction and substance abuse on Irish society.
Over a third (39pc) of respondents reported that their families had experienced adverse effects due to drug use, with alcohol accounting for 63pc of these cases. There is also an increasing acceptance within the medical community about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, according to the survey results.
An overwhelming 80pc of those surveyed would support the legalisation of cannabis for medical use, with an additional 56pc willing to prescribe the drug if it were legal to do so. Regarding the conditions for which they would prescribe cannabis, the most common response was pain management, followed by epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, anxiety, and depression.
Among the participants, 43pc identified alcohol as the drug causing the most harm in Ireland, followed by cocaine at 31pc and cannabis at 10pc.
In 2020, a survey released by Merchants Quay Ireland found that six out of 10 people in Ireland had direct experience with addiction.
In 2022, Drinkaware revealed 50pc of adults believe excessive alcohol consumption is “just part of Irish culture”.
Meanwhile, according to the United Nations’ Global Report on Cocaine 2023, Ireland is the joint-fourth highest consumer of cocaine globally per capita. The report found 2.4pc of Irish people reported using cocaine during the previous year, matching Austria and the United States.
The results of the survey provide a snapshot perspective on drug use and attitudes towards its legalisation among medical professionals in Ireland, which is somewhat at odds with the medical establishment.
Several respondents, however, voiced concerns regarding the absence of evidence-based research on the subject, and the lack of endorsement from esteemed institutions like Royal Colleges.
While highlighting widespread concerns about the harm caused by substances like alcohol and cocaine, the survey also signifies a shift towards a more compassionate and evidence-based approach to drug policy, emphasising treatment and medication rather than punishment.