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Skunk is becoming more and more of a problem in Ireland - it is not 'simply cannabis'

Immediate action is needed to tackle the issue, drug campaigners say.

Image: cannabis via Shutterstock

DRUG CAMPAIGNERS HAVE warned that skunk is already an issue in Ireland, and action needs to be taken now before the effects of the drug take hold.

A Channel 4 documentary, broadcast Tuesday night, has sparked debate on the potent strain of cannabis.

It can have several times the level of THC, cannabis’s active ingredient, and less CBD, which generally balances out the effects.

A recent study revealed that those who smoke skunk are more likely to develop psychosis.

Mark Kennedy from Merchants Quay Ireland said cannabis is extremely common, but it is often difficult to pin down exactly what strain is being smoked.

He said that for most users of the services offered by the project, they would be using a range of drugs, which cannabis would often form part of.

The prevalence of the drug, and a lack of knowledge of its effect, is ‘definitely an issue in Ireland’, the chairwoman of CityWide Drug Crisis Campaign said

Anna Quigley told TheJournal.ie that cannabis was never been seen as a major problem in many communities, despite its position as the most common illegal drug in the State.

“This skunk, or simply weed as its frequently referred to now, is not the same drug at all,” she said.

It hasn’t been a big issue until recently. We wouldn’t have heard of it as a particular issue of concern.

Quigley said there is still a lack of awareness of what skunk is, and of its effect, and noted it is especially prevalent among younger generations.

“Parents would know to flag other drugs like heroin as serious problems, but some people still view it as simply cannabis, and that it’s not as bad.”

Data from the mid-nineties showed the average THC content of cannabis in Ireland at around 1.5%.

According to the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, strains with a THC content of as high as 16% have been discovered in recent years.

“We need need a very strong strategic response, but there isn’t the political leadership,” Quigley said.

Policy is always catching up on problems, after a few years when the extent of the issue is fully realised.

The Government hinted earlier this week that it may be about to tackle the issue of drugs with the destination of a dedicated minister.

Responding to questions in the Dáil from Deputy Pat Rabbitte, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy could be ‘designated to an existing suitable Minister of State’.

Read: Here’s what you missed when people took drugs on Channel 4 last night >

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Nicky Ryan

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