Almost twice as many people were admitted to hospital for cannabis use than cocaine last year, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
The statistics show there were 608 admissions for cannabis in 2012/13, up from 492 in 2008/09. Cocaine accounted for 316 people being hospitalised across Scotland during the same period.
The Tories are now warning the police and NHS not to “ease off” on the class B drug amid attempts to tackle higher profile illegal substances such as heroin. Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “Cannabis enjoys a reputation in some quarters as essentially being a safe drug. But we can see from these figures that clearly isn’t the case.
“Allowing the illegal substance that reputation can breed complacency among not only users, but authorities too. It accounts for almost double the hospital admissions as cocaine, and the five-year trend is certainly moving in the wrong direction. We have to break this relaxed attitude, and ensure that the hundreds who are hospitalised as a result of cannabis don’t fall into a trap of believing what they are doing is a risk-free activity.”
In total, 5693 people were admitted to Scottish hospitals in 2012/13 for drug-related issues, almost 600 fewer than the previous year.
Heroin and other opiates were still the most prevalent reason for drug-related admissions with 3825 people seeking medical attention after using the substance.
Health boards in Dumfries and Galloway, Lothian, Fife and Lanarkshire recorded the most incidents of cannabis-related admissions while NHS Grampian, Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran had the fewest. No figures were provided for Orkney, Shetland or the Western Isles.
Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “We have maintained record amounts of money in frontline drug services and support, with drug treatment waiting times dramatically reduced. We have an ambitious programme for education about the dangers of drugs, including cannabis, through Know the Score and Choices for Life.
“Drug taking in the general adult population has fallen since 2006 and drug use among young people is at its lowest levels since 2002. Hospital discharges for drug use have also fallen among younger age groups.”
Source: http://news.stv.tv/scotland/265829 1st March 2014