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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Questions on promised legislation [Medical cannabis]

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Questions on promised legislation [Medical cannabis]. (21 Jan 2021)

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Deputy Gino Kenny - Today, the Department of Health announced the commencement of and the funding for the medical cannabis access programme under the HSE service plan. It is very welcome, after five years of campaigning by parents and others. It has been a very long road and finally, this year, people will get medical cannabis products under prescription.

The confinement to three conditions is very restrictive. Many people who suffer from chronic pain seek alternatives in medical cannabis. Will they be included?

What is the funding model for the access programme? Will people really get access? The licensing system that has been in place for the past four years is extremely bureaucratic and reimbursement is completely arbitrary. These are the most important issues for parents and individuals who seek access to medical cannabis.

Leo Varadkar - The Tánaiste - I am really glad to hear that the medical cannabis programme is now a reality. There have been a number of false dawns over the years but I read the other day that it is now becoming a reality. It is a long time coming and I acknowledge the Deputy's role in bringing us to this point as one of the people who led the charge for legislation in this area early on. As for which conditions qualify, that has to be a clinical decision made by medical specialists rather than by politicians. They will have to make that decision based on evidence and science.

I do not know the answer to the Deputy's question on funding but I will ask the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, to revert to him on it.


See also (Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements, 21 January 2021)

Deputy Gino Kenny - It will be questions and answers.

I welcome last night's news about the funding for and the establishment of the medical cannabis access programme. I presume over the next few months we will have a discussion about the roll-out of that programme.

Over the weekend, a number of the Minister's Cabinet colleagues were somewhat contrite about the public health advice given in late November. Does the Minister bear responsibility for the circumstances in which the State is now?

Deputy Stephen Donnelly - I thank the Deputy for his kind words on the medical cannabis access programme. I acknowledge that he has been at the forefront of this from day one, along with Deputy Aindrias Moynihan and others. It is good news. I look forward to going through the details of it with the Deputy and others. We are allocating a sizable amount of money. The programme existed before but, as the Deputy is all too well aware, it was not able to be rolled out because there was not an allocation for new drugs. That is being rectified and I look forward to talking to the Deputy about it.

I am more than happy to answer the Deputy's question. However, it is a session on vaccines and the Deputy's question is about the public health advice in November. I am happy to answer it, Acting Chairman, but we might be doing a different session at another time. I am happy to answer it if it is in order. If it is not in order, we could move on to vaccines.

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