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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 290- Cannabis for medicinal use [47744/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 290- Cannabis for medicinal use [47744/17]. (14 Nov 2017)


290. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the position regarding medicinal cannabis; his plans to legislate to allow for medicinal cannabis here; the timeframe for the introduction of such legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47744/17]

 

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris):  Cannabis is strictly controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 to 2016 and the Regulations made thereunder.

 

The two most common active components found in cannabis oil are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

 

CBD is derived from cannabis. However, since CBD is not psychoactive it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, therefore does not require a licence. CBD oil is not authorised as a medicinal product, however, it is sometimes marketed as a nutritional or dietary supplement.

THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Under the Misuse of Drugs legislation products containing THC are strictly controlled and possession is unlawful except under licence.

Under the existing legislation it is open to the Minister for Health to grant a licence to an Irish registered medical practitioner for access to medical cannabis containing THC for a named patient. The granting of a licence is based on submission of an application to the Minister which is endorsed by a consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who is prepared to monitor the effects of treatment over time. To date two such applications for two separate individuals have been successful.

Ultimately it is the decision of the prescribing clinician, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe or not prescribe any particular treatment, including cannabis, for a patient under their care. As Minister for Health I have no role in the clinical decision making process.

 

Any consultant requiring information or clarification in relation to the licence application process should contact the Department of Health directly.

 

As the Deputy may be aware, in March 2017, on foot of the conclusions from the Health Products Regulatory Authority’s report ‘Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review’, I established an Expert Reference Group to advise on the development of a Cannabis for Medical Use Access Programme.

 

The Expert Group is tasked with the development of clinical guidance for healthcare professionals treating patients through the Access Programme. A critical requirement for the successful establishment of the Access Programme is meaningful engagement with representative bodies, clinicians, patients, and pharmacists so that these groups are integral to the drafting of operational clinical guidance. This has involved continuous ongoing dialogue between the Experts and third parties throughout this initiative. The Group conducted a targeted consultation on the draft guidance, which has now been finalised. The Expert Group are also considering other operational aspects for the implementation of the Access Programme.

 

Officials in my Department are working on secondary legislation to underpin the programme and on the logistics of sourcing suitable cannabis-based product supplies for the Irish market place. This work will take a number of months to complete.

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