Research has shown that 9% of individuals who experiment with cannabis will become addicted to it – this number increases when use starts during adolescence.
This is according to the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) in response to the recent legalisation of dagga for personal use. The group is concerned that there is a growing public perception that dagga is a harmless plant, and that few measures have been instituted to address this.
According to SASOP’s Dr Abdul Kader Domingo, it is estimated that one in six teenagers using cannabis will become addicted to it.
Domingo said that any change to the legislation regulating cannabis use should have been undertaken in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders, be based on good quality scientific evidence and take into consideration the availability and accessibility of drug addiction prevention and treatment resources in South Africa.
He added that there was insufficient evidence to predict the long-term consequences of legalising dagga.
“The ease of accessing an intoxicating substance may have an underestimated impact on the initiation, frequency and amount of use, and the subsequent risk of developing a substance use disorder. Legalisation should therefore not have been considered at this point,” he argued. – Health-e News