Legislation allowing the Medical Cannabis Access Programme to operate in Ireland, will be signed by Minister Simon Harris today. A new pilot programme that allows access to cannabis-based products for medical use only has just launched this morning.
There are no medical cannabis for sale products available in Ireland in this current climate and this programme will operate on a pilot basis for five years. It has been two years in the making and initiated by the Health Products Regulatory Authority.
After an investigation by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, it was deemed that cannabis-based products be made available to patients with multiple sclerosis and epilepsy helping reduce seizures , and people suffering nausea in chemotherapy.
What does this mean for Ireland?
The legislation means that commercial operators whose cannabis products meet the specified requirements will be able to supply products to the Irish market.
The programme will make it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe a cannabis-based treatment in cases where patients fail to respond to standard treatment. Simon Harris is calling it a “significant milestone” in the development of health policy.
Compassionate Access Programme
The Health Minister asked an expert group to assess scientific evidence and to set out its recommendations for medicinal cannabis. After a four-week delay, the Health Products Regulatory Authority published its report today which suggests that a “compassionate access programme” be set up.
Patients must be supervised by a doctor and a central register will keep track of who is permitted to use cannabis-based treatments. It also states that only patients who are “resistant to all standard therapies and interventions” should consider it.
Minister Harris said today: “I have decided to proceed with the advice of the HPRA and establish an access programme for cannabis-based treatments for certain conditions, where patients have not responded to other treatments and there is some evidence that cannabis may be effective.”
“This is something I am eager to progress but I am also obligated to proceed on the basis of the best clinical advice.”