Cannabis products which contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is psychoactive, are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation. Under this legislation medical practitioners who wish to prescribe cannabis for medical use may apply to me, as Minister for Health, for a licence to do so. The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the granting of such a licence must be premised on an appropriate application being submitted to my Department, which is endorsed by a consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who is prepared to monitor the effects of the treatment over time.
A cannabis for medical use licence application submitted to the Minister for Health, in line with the Misuse of Drugs Acts, must include:
- An outline of the treatment the patient has received to date and justification from the doctor as to why it is appropriate in their patient’s specific circumstances to prescribe a Schedule 1 drug.
- Details of the cannabis-based product which it is proposed to prescribe and administer to the patient.
- The source of the cannabis-based product.
- The arrangements for the ongoing monitoring and care of the patient once the cannabis-based treatment has commenced.
The application must be submitted either by the patient’s medical consultant, or by their General Practitioner (GP). Applications from the patients' GP must include written endorsement for the proposed cannabis treatment for the individual patients by the patients’ consultant.
To date, licences have been issued for treatment of six separate individual patients.
The decision to prescribe or not prescribe any treatment, including cannabis treatment, for an individual patient is strictly a decision for the treating clinician, in consultation with their patient. The Minister for Health has no role in this clinical decision-making process.
Consultants requiring further information or clarification in relation to the licence application process are advised to contact the Department of Health directly. Valid applications received are assessed without delay.
A patient who is eligible under the Long Term Illness Scheme has automatic access to all of the products on the core list of products for that condition. This list is published on the HSE website. Medical cannabis is not listed as one of the approved products currently. Where a patient seeks reimbursement of a product outside the core list, there is an individual reimbursement application process.
The patient's treating clinician should complete the individual reimbursement request application form and return it to the HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS). Where such an application is approved, the HSE will then determine how the patient may be assisted, where they hold a Ministerial License.