Cannabis users are being warned that some dealers are spraying the drug with toxic, synthetic compounds that can cause “profound mental health effects”.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) yesterday issued the warning yesterday.
The centre warned that at least one new psychoactive substance was identified in Europe every week last year – including 15 new synthetic cannabinoids.
It warned that illegal cannabis products are being adulterated with “highly potent and toxic” synthetic substances that pose far greater health risks.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Cuan Mhuire Senior Addiction Therapist Michael Guerin warned that, in a worst-case scenario, the synthetic drugs can kill.
“If someone is feeling any effects they wouldn’t normally feel in terms of the way the drug has affected them - when they have taken them or afterwards - they should seek help for it,” he said.
“Be very aware around your drug taking if you are doing so because it potentially could make you extremely ill or in a very, very extreme case it could cause death.
“It is really that dangerous for a very small minority of cases. For the majority of people that might take it, they will quite likely find quite profound mental affects afterwards.
“In other words, people complain of being very depressed afterwards and people complain of a lot of anxiety and so on.
“Very often, cannabis users are saying to us that the cannabis they are taking recently is having an effect on them it didn’t have before. Now we can’t say with any degree of certainty that was contaminated cannabis – but that is something we hear on regular basis.”
Mr Guerin said Ireland has had only one laboratory-confirmed case of cannabis being contaminated with synthetic cannabinoids this year.
He said cannabis users who mistakenly take the synthetic versions often experience “much more profound” effects.
“They are much more intoxicated when they take them and the after-effects of taking them in terms of their mental health are profound also,” he said.
Asked whether the situation strengthens the argument for the legalisation of cannabis, Mr Guerin said there are two ways to look at it.
“We have to balance the arguments and the counter-arguments and certainly the conversation we’re having this morning would highlight the grave dangers of cannabis being secured by users from unscrupulous suppliers,” he said.
“So, what we’ve been talking about this morning would lean towards legalisation but of course, there are other very good arguments against legalisation as well.”
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