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The Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977-2017 provide a legal basis for a Ministerial licence for medical cannabis in exceptional circumstances. The Department did not specify if any applications had been rejected.
Meanwhile, the Department said “considerable progress” was being made in relation to the proposed Cannabis for Medical Use Access Programme.
“An Expert Group has drawn-up clinical guidance for healthcare professionals treating patients through the Access Programme. These clinical guidelines for prescribers are available on the Department’s website, and contain detailed information on medical cannabis, including clinical guidance on the use of medical cannabis and guidance on which cannabis products are appropriate for medical use.
“It should be noted that while these guidelines will primarily underpin the functioning of the Access Programme, the Department invites all clinicians with an interest in considering use of a cannabis-based treatment for their patient, and in applying to the Minister under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 for a licence to prescribe cannabis for their patient, to review this information repository.”
Department officials are working on secondary legislation in the form of three Statutory Instruments, which will underpin the Access Programme. This work will be finalised “once appropriate cannabis-based products, to be included in the legislation, can be sourced”.
The Department’s spokesperson commented: “Whilst medical cannabis products are not medicines, ensuring that such products meet appropriate quality standards when they are made available to the Irish market is a critical aspect of facilitating safe access to medical cannabis for Irish-based patients.
“Department of Health officials are working intensively on this issue to ensure a supply of appropriate medical cannabis products from other EU Member States and further afield to meet the needs of Irish patients. However, the Department of Health has no control in relation to business decisions taken by commercial product manufacturers and has no powers to compel such companies to supply their products to the Irish market.”
Until these products are available in Ireland, it will be a matter for the prescriber and their patient to source the prescribed medical cannabis-based product, the spokesperson outlined.
It is understood that patients who have been prescribed such products under Ministerial licence have sourced them from the following pharmacy in the Netherlands: Transvaal Pharmacy, Kempstraat 113, 2572 GC, The Hague.