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Fitness & Health

10th Feb 2017

Welcome news as medicinal cannabis looks set to be available in Ireland for specific patients

Paul Moore

A compassionate access programme for cannabis-based treatments has been approved.

As reported earlier, Minister for Health Simon Harris has published The Cannabis for Medical Use report and it’s good news for advocates of medicinal cannabis.

In what has been described as a ‘milestone’ in the development of policy on the use of medicinal cannabis in Ireland, the treatment will now available to patients with certain types of medical conditions.

Approval has now been granted for a compassionate access programme to be developed for cannabis-based treatments.

The HPRA report advised that, if a policy decision is taken to permit cannabis under an access programme, it should be for the treatment of patients with:

  • Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis resistant to all standard therapies and interventions whilst under expert medical supervision;
  • Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, despite the use of standard anti-emetic regimes whilst under expert medical supervision;
  • Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy that has failed to respond to standard anticonvulsant medications whilst under expert medical supervision.

Patients accessing cannabis through the programme should be under the care of a medical consultant and medical information. It’s also advised that utilisation data should be kept on a central register.

The Minister outlined the next steps he will now take:

  • The report will be referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health
  • Department of Health officials and the HPRA will consult with stakeholders on how the access programme will operate. It will be particularly important to engage with the clinical community in the development of a framework.
  • Department of Health officials will continue to analyse the report and advise the Minister on legislative changes that may be necessary

Cannabis is already legal for medicinal use in a number of countries including The Netherlands, Canada, Australia and some states in the USA, where it is heavily regulated.

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