Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that a report recommending access to cannabis products for certain conditions will be implemented.
Harris said that he plans to put in place a Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) report which recommended that cannabis products be available to patients with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and those suffering with nausea from chemotherapy.
Clare TD Dr Michael Harty also welcomed the announcement saying that the report was a step towards providing medicinal marijuana “to people that really need it”. However, he was the only TD to vote against allowing the Bill to proceed to the committee stage in December saying it was “designed to legalise recreational drug use in the guise of legalising it for medical purposes.”
AAA-People Before Profit TD Gino Kelly said that the report did not go far enough because it excluded patients without the listed illnesses from accessing cannabis. Mr Kelly said that “it’s too restrictive” and that he still plans to bring his Private Member’s Medicinal Use Regulations Bill before the Dáil.
The report has been criticized because the largest single condition where patients reported an effect from medicinal cannabis: chronic pain, had been specifically excluded from the access program. Mr Kelly said he understood that there were worries about the negative side-effects of Cannabis but believed that “the pros far outweigh the cons”
In DCU, Eleanor Hulm, Chairperson of Students for Sensible Drug Policy(SSDP) said that “the limitations and restrictions of the bill anger a lot of people but for a country where cannabis was recently still such a taboo, this is a huge step in the right direction.”
Vera Twomey from County Cork who has been giving her seven-year-old daughter Ava cannabis oil to reduce the severity of her epileptic seizures received the report with open arms. Mrs Twomey said the oil had made a huge impact in her daughter’s life and said that she hopes that it will eventually be extended to other conditions such as Parkinsonism, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
While currently this Bill only references medicinal cannabis use, Hulm said that Ireland “should follow suite of several US states and implement full legalisation of cannabis. It should be taxed and regulated, generating revenue which can benefit society whilst also taking the power out of the hands of criminals.”
“But before that happens, I reckon a decriminalisation model will be put in place and before that model, medicalisation.”
Image Credit: Rebecca Lumley