Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 185, Issue 3, pp 643–647 | Cite as

Attitudes and perceived risk of cannabis use in Irish adolescents

Original Article



Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the developed world and its use is associated with several adverse physical and mental health effects and negative social outcomes. Earlier use of cannabis increases the risk of adverse effects. Attitudes and perceived risk towards drugs are regarded as strong influences in determining whether or not a person uses cannabis, but there is little existing research on Irish teenagers’ attitudes to the risks of this drug.


This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study using a structured, anonymous questionnaire. The study was undertaken in nine public and private secondary schools in Cork City and suburbs. Students aged 15–18 and in fourth, fifth or sixth year of school were included.


Of the 507 participating students, 39.3 % (n = 199) reported previous cannabis use. There were significantly lower levels of perceived risk of cannabis among those who had used the drug compared with those who had not, for all categories of risk (p < 0.01). Attitudes towards cannabis were more liberal among males and those with previous use of the drug. A minority of students (n = 92; 18.2 %) support legalisation of cannabis. The majority of teenagers (n = 382; 75.8 %) believe that they are not given enough information about the drug.


Cannabis use is very widespread among teenagers in Cork. There are relatively low levels of perceived risk of mental and physical health problems with use of the drug. Attitudes towards cannabis are associated with personal use of the drug and gender.


Cannabis Marijuana Attitudes Risk Teenagers Adolescents Ireland 



We would like to thank the principals, teachers, and students who were involved in this study and made the data collection possible. Our appreciation also goes to staff at the School of Medicine, University College Cork, for their assistance and advice, particularly to Prof. Geraldine Boylan, Dr. Louise Burgoyne, and Dr. Kieran Doran.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We declare no conflicts of interest. This research was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medicine, Brookfield Health Sciences ComplexUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public HealthUniversity Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge UniversityCambridgeEngland, UK

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