Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has signed legislation to create a five-year pilot program for medical cannabis access, according to a report from The Journal. The signing comes two years after Harris announced a program would be established.
During the signing, Harris said there are “no plans to legalize cannabis” in Ireland.
“The purpose of this program 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.” – Harris, during the bill signing, via The Journal
The bill allows medical cannabis access for just three qualifying conditions – intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, severe and treatment-resistant epilepsy, and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
The measure does not legalize medical cannabis production in Ireland; instead, the products will be obtained elsewhere in Europe, imported by the Health Product Regulatory Authority, and made available to patients in pharmacies. Harris did indicate to The Journal that he has a “very open mind” to allow medical cannabis cultivation in the nation and has a “gut feeling” that it should. Harris added that if medical cannabis were cultivated in Ireland, it would likely be the responsibility of the public health service.
According to an Irish Post report, the program will be reviewed by officials in 2024.