Simon Harris, the Health Minister of Ireland, has finally signed a bill which will now allow for the operation of a 5-year pilot programme — the Medical Cannabis Access Programme — for patients suffering from conditions wherein conventional treatment has failed.
Patients with one (or more) of the following conditions qualify under Ireland’s ambitious Medical Cannabis Access Programme:
- Severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy
- Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Intractable nausea associated with chemotherapy
The drug, however, can only be prescribed by a specialist consultant and that too if all other conventional methods of treatments have failed.
Currently, no medical marijuana products are available in Ireland. Thus, the first step to the successful implementation of the pilot project requires potential suppliers to get their medical cannabis products assessed for medical use at the earliest.
“For years, families have fought for this programme to be set up and for years, we have faced many hurdles, challenges and obstacles,” Harris said to the Irish media. “I am so happy to be here today to advance this programme and help many families across the country.”
Today I signed regulations to set up a compassionate access programme for medicinal cannabis in Ireland for certain conditions. A huge amount of work has been undertaken to get here. Thank you to the patient advocates & the dedicated clinicians who drew up the Clincial Guidelines pic.twitter.com/nv4PwHDTUB
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) June 26, 2019
The specialist consultants will start prescribing the drug as soon as it’s available in pharmacies.
Although the legislation was passed yesterday, the groundwork on the pilot project had begun back in 2016 when the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) published a report titled Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review on the request of the Health Minister.
Gino Kenny, member of the People Before Profit’s party and a long-time campaigner for medical marijuana, welcomed the new scheme.
Deputy Kenny though expressed his disappointment by terming the programme “quite restrictive” as it doesn’t cover chronic pain – the condition/symptom that qualifies under the medical marijuana program of the majority of the 33 legal states in the US.