The father of a 15 year old student has expressed grave concern about the debate on the legalisation of cannabis after his son suffered panic attacks and mental health issues after taking the drug.
In recent weeks there has been a debate via the Star about whether or not the Class B drug should be legalised.
Councillor Johnny McCarthy has spoken in favour of relaxing the law, however Councillor Alexander Redpath said he was vehemently opposed to any attempt to decriminalise cannabis.
This week a Lisburn father has said his son is undergoing treatment for mental health issues, which he thinks hasbeen exacerbated by his use of the drug.
He is also concerned that young people are oblivious to the dangers of the drug, seeing it as a harmless alternative to alcohol.
“We didn’t know anything about it until his symptoms started to show,” the father explained.
“He was getting panic attacks and we took him to the doctor but he didn’t admit to smoking anything.
“When it transpired that he had been, we started looking up online about it and mental health issues were something that featured highly.
“Those who call for the legalisation of this drug cite how it can help sufferers of chronic conditions.
“What they fail to mention is the devastating effect it can have on those who use it regularly, particularly young people.
“Cannabis is well known to cause psychological disorders in young people, causing them to suffer from feelings of anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia.
“It can also lead to difficulties in concentration and motivation.
“Last year, our 15 year old son started smoking it and we have witnessed its effects first hand.
“He now attends a mental health clinic, partly due to the effect it has had on him.
“This has been disastrous for his education, particularly in the run up to his GCSEs.
“It seems to be quite prevalent in a lot of schools and I think it is more common than we think.
“He was raised in a good family and goes to a grammar school.
“We don’t drink or smoke and he was well brought up in a Christian house and was warned of the dangers of drugs.
“I know he has taken too much at times and it has frightened him but he still seems to think it is harmless.”
He is concerned that even calling for legalisation sends out the wrong message to young people in Lisburn.
“I think there is a danger in having a public debate on the issue because it sends a dangerous message that it is actually ok.
“It seems to be almost accepted that it is a harmless drug.
“It may not kill people but I worry about the effects it can have,
“Councillor McCarthy is being highly irresponsible in calling for this drug to be decriminalized.
“This is the last thing that I want my children to see.
“It sends out all the wrong signals to our young people who unfortunately get the message that it is harmless.
“Think again please Councillor and show greater responsibility in what you call for publicly.
“The message out there is that it doesn’t do any harm at all but I have seen the harm it can do.”