Lisburn Councillor Alexander Redpath has hit back at comments by NI21 Councillor Johnny McCarthy calling for the legalisation of cannabis.
Last week Councillor Johnny McCarthy said that it was time for a re-think on the legalisation of cannabis, suggesting that it can be of great benefit to those suffering extreme pain from long-tern chronic conditions.
However, Councillor Redpath claimed that there were significant dangers associated with legalising the drug.
“In last week’s Star Councillor McCarthy called for the legalisation of cannabis,” said Mr Redpath.
“Sadly I cannot agree with his analysis and believe that liberalising the law in regards to cannabis would cause significant harm.
“The harmful effects of cannabis are well documented.
“There is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis, are more likely to use cannabis or have used it for long periods of time in the past.
“Regular use of the drug has appeared to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia.
“Moreover, whereas cannabis was once thought to be non-addictive the weight of medical evidence now suggests that it is addictive with severe withdrawal effects affecting those trying to come off the drug.
“I am also deeply concerned at the increased use of increasingly strong strains of cannabis colloquially referred to as skunk.
“The central plank of Councillor McCarthy’s argument is that cannabis should be legalised as it can assist those suffering from chronic conditions. This argument is utterly devoid of merit.
“Drugs derived from cannabis are already licensed for use in the UK to treat illnesses such as MS.
“Even the usefulness of these refined licensed drugs is subject to intense debate within the medical community.
“Proposing the legalisation of unrefined cannabis when a medical alternative is available in certain circumstances makes no sense.”
“I therefore cannot condone Councillor McCarthy’s call for a blanket legalisation of cannabis.
“However I will admit that it is refreshing to have a reasoned debate on a substantive area of policy.
“This is a sharp contrast to some of the rubbish being discussed in the Northern Ireland political sphere.”