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HSE finalising new school curriculum on drug use

The HSE is finalising a new curriculum for secondary school students to address drug use, including cannabis, this newspaper has been told.

Last month, the IMO passed a motion at its AGM urging the Department of Health to launch a national campaign “advising the dangers of cannabis use, especially in young adolescents”.

Dr Ray Walley, a GP in Dublin’s north inner city, said he had “many patients who, unfortunately, have experienced the ill-effects of cannabis addiction. It has been a scourge on them and their families.”

The Department referred this newspaper to the HSE. “‘Know the Score’ is a senior cycle resource addressing substance use,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent.

“There are 12 lesson plans for teachers, with several addressing drug use and one addressing cannabis specifically. It is currently being finalised and teacher training will be available from autumn 2019. It has been developed by a partnership group that includes HSE Health and Wellbeing, HSE Social Inclusion, the Professional Development Service for Teachers and a representative from the Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces. Post-primary teachers and students were involved in piloting the resource.”

The same group is working on units of learning on substance use as part of a junior cycle resource, they added. 

“There will be three units of learning on substance use with specific learning activities on cannabis use.  This resource is still in development and is due to be published online in 2020.”

Dr Walley told the recent IMO AGM that his call for a national information campaign on cannabis was prompted by a recent meeting with local young people.

“In meeting a group of young adolescents recently, the topic of cannabis came up.

“They were very positively motivated towards cannabis. In discussing it with them, they didn’t know the potential dangers.”

This month, a group of senior doctors including Dr Walley, who have formed the Cannabis Risk Alliance, issued a statement expressing “grave concerns about increasingly relaxed attitudes towards cannabis amongst legislators, media and commentators”.  The Alliance is calling for a public education campaign “to counter the pro-cannabis propaganda which has gone unchallenged for the past eight years”.

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