The criminalisation of cannabis is leading people to harder drugs, a former addict has claimed.
Brendan Hurson began smoking cannabis in 2011 and his use of the drug became more frequent the following year when he got a new job.
“I worked a lot of night shifts at the time, so I used to find it hard to sleep in the morning so I kind of smoked a joint in the morning,” Mr Hurson told Newstalk’s Barry Whyte.
For years, Mr Hurson was a daily cannabis user and he feels it caused him a lot of problems.
“It got me introduced to a world of other drugs,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“I enjoyed it at the start but looking back now I see the consequences it did have on me compared to my peers who didn’t go down that path, who didn’t smoke weed.
“It led to a lot of paranoia and stuff. I would have been caught with small amounts around that time and I would have been in court for possession and stuff and it did lead to a lot of anxiety.”
He was first arrested at the age and believes the illegality of cannabis prevents users getting help.
“I’ll never use or smoke cannabis again,” he said.
“But I think there should be more awareness around the dangers of prolonged use and excessive use.
“I think in comparison to drink and other things, it isn’t the worst like. It doesn’t lead to hard drugs.
“I think the reason it does lead to hard drugs is because it’s criminalised - because of the connection with other drugs.”
A Citizens Assembly on drugs is due to begin in April and is due to “examine the range of issues around illicit drugs use in Ireland”.
Last year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not have an opinion on the legalisation of cannabis but opponents point out the drug reduces fertility and is linked to mental health conditions such as anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks.
Despite this, Mr Hurson believes legalisation is inevitable.
“It is normal,” he said.
“No matter what town you go to in Ireland, you can smell it.
“You can smell it on the buses, you can smell it on the streets, you can smell it everywhere.
“I think with the decriminalisation in parts of America and parts of Europe, it’s very much acceptable these days - we’re not going to stop it.
“People like to smoke weed.”