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Health Minister Simon Harris has today signed legislation to allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme on a pilot basis for five years.

The minister said it is going to take “a little bit of time to fully establish” the scheme, as supply couldn’t be brought in until the law was signed today.

“I expect patients to be in a position to access the scheme in the autumn,” he said.

It’s over two years since the minister announced that a medicinal cannabis access scheme was to be established.

The delay resulted in clashes in the Dáil between government members and the opposition, with problems finding a quality assured supplier of cannabis and a supplier that can export its products to Ireland being blamed for the hold-up.

In March, it was confirmed that a medicinal cannabis product for Irish import was identified, with government sources stating that the legislation to allow the scheme to get up and running was to be signed off on before the summer.

The new scheme will facilitate access to cannabis-based products for medical use, that are of standardised quality and which meet the requirements outlined in the legislation.

Commenting on the launch today, Harris said “it is important to state that there are no plans to legalise cannabis in this country. The purpose of this programme is to facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons, where conventional treatment has failed.”

“Ultimately, it will be the decision of the medical consultant, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe a particular treatment, including a cannabis-based treatment, for a patient under their care.”

The medicinal cannabis access scheme will now make it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe a cannabis-based treatment for a patient under his or her care, but only for patients with specific medical conditions, where the patient has failed to respond to standard treatments.

These conditions are:
- Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy

The signing of the legislation today will allow for potential suppliers to apply to have their medical cannabis products assessed for suitability for medical use.

Currently, no medical cannabis products are available in Ireland, which is why Department of Health officials had to travel to Europe to consult with initial suitable suppliers.

Source: https://www.thejournal.ie/medicinal-cannabis-access-scheme-4697671-Jun2019/

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