New figures reveal the proportion of people hospitalised due to excessive cannabis use has reached a 10-year peak.
These figures relate to 2014-15. The figures show that 14% of drug-related hospital admissions related to excessive cannabis consumption.
This is the highest level since 2006-07.
The figures reveal there were 913 cannabis-related hospital admissions in 2014-15. This compared to 553 admissions for cocaine overdose.
One worrying development is the rise in the number of hospital admissions relating to the use of 'cannabinoids'. For instance, in the NHS Highland area, 36 people were admitted to hospital after using cannabinoids. This represents a 13.4% increase on the prior year.
The figures have given fuel to the Scottish Conservatives views that cannabis should not be made legal in Scotland.
However, the Scottish Liberal Democrats disagree, believing Scotland should legalise cannabis, particularly for medicinal uses.
Highlands and Islands MSP and Tory justice spokesman Douglas Ross said: “These figures show very clearly that cannabis is not the harmless substance some would have us believe.
“It’s quite alarming that quite so many people are being hospitalised through using cannabis, a drug many people feel authorities are going soft on.
“And not only is it dangerous in its own right, as these statistics prove, but it’s a gateway drug to even more harmful substances.”
Ross asserts that Scotland faces a 'massive fight' in order to remove illegal drugs from it's streets, and legalising cannabis would send out 'mixed messages.'
Ross added: “Now is not the time to give in and wave the white flag.
“We need to crack down on those circulating drugs of all kinds on our streets, and reinforce the message about just how damaging taking these substances can be.”
On the other side of the argument is the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Alex Cole-Hamilton, a spokesman for the party said: “It is concerning to see these figures rise, however the Conservatives’ solution is completely wrong and regressive.
“If anything these figures show that the Lib Dems have been right in calling for this dark market to be brought out of the shadows.
“If the Tories had their way then they would drive the market further underground, exposing people to more dangerous drugs and endangering more lives, leading to more hospitalisations.
“The answer is to educate and regulate not to punish as the Tories want to do.”
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