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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 645 – Medicinal products [12071/17] [Cannabis].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 645 – Medicinal products [12071/17] [Cannabis]. (07 Mar 2017)

654. Deputy Gino Kennyasked the Minister for Health the advice he has received from the Chief Medical Officer, as referred to in Dáil Éireann on 28 February 2017, with regard to compassionate access to cannabis based medicine; if he will publish this advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12071/17]


Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris):  Under the Misuse of Drugs Acts and the Regulations made thereunder, the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession of cannabis is currently unlawful except under licence.


Following the recent publication of the Health Products Regulatory Authority’s report Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review a process is currently underway to establish an access programme for cannabis-based treatments in Ireland.


For the period during which this access programme is being established, it remains open to me as the Minister for Health to provide a licence for access to cannabis for medical purposes in individual cases. The granting of such a licence must, however, be premised on an appropriate application being submitted to the Department of Health by a Consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who makes the clinical decision to prescribe the treatment and monitor its effects over time.


I have been advised that the granting of an individual licence for the use of cannabis for medical purposes by the Department of Health sets aside the usual regulatory processes which are in place to protect the public. These processes are in place in order to ensure that only those medications which have been found to be both effective and safe are made available to the public. Therefore, it is crucial that the granting of any such licence takes due care and consideration of the potential unintended consequences associated with the prescription of cannabis for medical purposes, and that its use is endorsed by a Consultant who is familiar with and responsible for the care of the individual for whom the licence application is being made.


As I noted in the Dáil on the 31 January, the appropriateness of any particular treatment is a matter between the patient and their doctor. I, as Minister for Health, can have no role in the patient-doctor relationship and any involvement or interference in that regard by myself or my Department would be wholly inappropriate.


The professional role of doctors and pharmacists is integral to the safe and effective use of all drugs which are prescribed. In establishing an access programme for medical cannabis, it is therefore critical that the expert views of these professionals, through their professional bodies, are considered. Efforts are underway to ensure that, prior to its establishment, the planned access programme reflects this expert input in order to assure clarity of the roles and responsibilities of doctors and pharmacists in prescribing and dispensing cannabis for medical purposes in the interests of safe and effective practice.

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