As the Deputy is aware, I have signed legislation which will allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) on a pilot basis for five years.
Commercial medical cannabis suppliers whose cannabis products meet the specified requirements set out in the legislation, and which have been listed in Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations, will be able to supply these products into Ireland.
Once suitable medical cannabis products are made available by suppliers, the MCAP will make it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe, in line with the published clinical guidance, a listed cannabis-based product for a patient under his or her care for the three medical conditions specified in the Programme, where the patient has failed to respond to standard treatments.
The Department of Health will make this information available on their website.
As yet no medical cannabis products are available for use under the MCAP. It is expected that it will take some time for suppliers to put arrangements in place to have their products made available on the Irish market.
However I am pleased to say that there are a number of suppliers who have expressed an interest.
The medical 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. As Minister for Health I have no role in this clinical decision-making process.
Pending full operation of the MCAP and for medical indications not included in the MCAP, doctors may continue to use the Ministerial licensing route to prescribe medical cannabis for their patients, should they wish to do so.
Full information on how to apply for a Ministerial Licence is available on the Department's website.