Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (645)

Seán Sherlock


645. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 341 to 343, inclusive, of 19 February 2019, the progress made on the issues raised. [12954/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department intends to introduce a Cannabis for Medical Use Access Programme.

In the period since the PQs that the deputy has referred to were answered, on 19th February and 12th March respectively, Department Officials have continued to work intensively to bring this development forward.

While the arrangements that will enable this programme to begin are being finalised, it is open to a registered medical practitioner to apply for a Ministerial Licence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. Such a licence, if granted, enables them to legally prescribe medical cannabis for a named patient. It is important to note that the decision to prescribe such treatment is a clinical decision for the prescribing doctor.

Until acceptable medical cannabis products are available for use in Ireland, patients who are the subject of a licence are obtaining their cannabis products from a pharmacy in the Netherlands. This is necessary because Netherlands government policy does not permit cannabis oil products to be commercially exported.

I am aware that a UK company may provide a service which involves it collecting cannabis products from the Netherlands for persons authorised to use it under the UK medical cannabis regime.

I have been informed that this UK Company may be acting as the patient’s “nominated representative” in the collection of their personally prescribed medical cannabis products. No similar Irish entity is known to provide this service, but it is certainly open to any patient to engage a representative on their behalf in this regard.

One licence has been granted to a commercial entity for the importation of products containing medical cannabis, into Ireland. No information is available as to the plans that this company has to import cannabis products to Ireland for medical use.