The latest figures from the Health Research Board show a continuing rise in the number of people seeking help for cannabis use.

Experts will tell a conference today that more and more young people are seeking help for cannabis addiction.

Dr Gerry McCarney, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the HSE's National Drug Treatment Centre, is one of those addressing this afternoon's conference.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the cannabis available today is "much stronger" than previously, which has an impact on how cannabis-users behave and function.

He said that there is a physical withdrawal syndrome associated with trying to come off cannabis, which he says is worse now due to the higher potency of the drug.

He said a young person's teenage years are "critical" and that the brain is still in the process of development.

"We are seeing a lot of young people where cannabis is having an impact not just on how they're feeling, but on relationships within the family and performance in school, and ultimately the impact on career and their futures".

Dr McCarney said that what often gets lost in the debate about whether cannabis should be legalised or decriminalised is that "cannabis is not good for you".

He said it is a harmful substance and that the earlier you start using it, the worse the impact will be.

"For a small group, it can lead to significant, long-term chronic illness. For those who don't become unwell, it can have a huge impact on your future".

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