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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 407 - Sentencing policy [15431/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 407 - Sentencing policy [15431/15]. (21 Apr 2015)

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407. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on sentencing for those found guilty of the possession of cannabis; her further views on the two year sentence handed down at Tralee court to a person (details supplied), who has arthritis, for the possession of six plants in view of the fact that the Government is bringing forward legislation for the provision of medical cannabis in the form of Sativex; if consideration will be given to making provision for those who use cannabis for pain relief and to make exceptions within the current prohibition on cannabis; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15431/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Cannabis is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs legislation. Decisions regarding the levels of control which should apply to a particular substance under the legislation are, in the first instance, a matter for the Minister for Health. Such decisions take into account the potential for abuse and the extent to which the particular substance is or can be legitimately used for medical or scientific purposes.    The question of whether provision should be made for the use of cannabis for pain relief is therefore one which falls under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar T.D.

However, I am advised by the Health authorities that prior to last July any use of the substance in all forms was prohibited in Ireland. On 11 July 2014 the then Minister of State for Primary Care at the Department of Health Alex White T.D. signed regulations which enables authorised cannabis-based medicinal products to be legally prescribed by medical practitioners and used by patients.


I am further informed that on 18 July 2014 the Health Products Regulatory Authority granted a marketing authorisation for the cannabis based medicinal product Sativex® to be marketed in Ireland and that making the product available for prescribing in Ireland is now a matter for the holder of the product authorisation, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC and its European partner Almirall.

The Health authorities have also advised that the question of whether the product should be made available under the HSE's Community Drugs Schemes High Tech Arrangement is currently the subject of discussions between the HSE and the supplier.

With regard to the issue raised by the Deputy concerning the particular penalties imposed by the Courts in dealing with an offence involving cannabis possession under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, the position is that the Courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. In this regard the conduct of any court case including the decision reached in each case and the factors taken into account in determining those decisions are matters entirely for the presiding judge. It is, therefore, not open to me to comment or intervene in any way in relation to how particular proceedings are conducted or on the outcome of those proceedings.

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