As the Deputy is aware, Minister Harris launched the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) in June 2019. The programme will run on a 5-year pilot basis and is restricted to prescribing of cannabis-based products at medical consultant level, for those patients with certain medical conditions who have exhausted all other available treatment options. The 3 medical conditions are
- spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis;
- intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy;
- severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy.
To date three products have been added to Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations 2019. While the MCAP is not currently operational, engagement is ongoing with the HSE in regard to progressing same. For more information relating to the Programme please visit the Department of Health's website.
Pending full operation of the MCAP and for medical indications not included in the MCAP, doctors may continue to utilise the Ministerial licencing route to prescribe medical cannabis for their patients, should they wish to do so. Until these products are available in Ireland, it will be a matter for the prescriber and their patient to source the prescribed medical cannabis-based product. It is understood that patients who have been prescribed such products have sourced it from a Pharmacy in the Netherlands. The authorities in the Netherlands do not permit the export to wholesalers or pharmacies of cannabis-based oil products but will permit the filling of individual prescriptions.