Thursday, 18 February 2021

Questions (280)

Denis Naughten

Question:

280. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health if he plans to introduce primary legislation or new statutory instruments relating to the availability of cannabis for medicinal use in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9171/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

There are two separate pathways for accessing cannabis for medical use in Ireland.

Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP)

In June 2019, the Minister for Health signed legislation to underpin the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP). This is a 5-year pilot programme, restricted to prescribing of cannabis-based products by medical consultants, for patients with certain medical conditions who have exhausted all other available medical treatment options.

For more information relating to the MCAP, please see the Department of Health’s website.

The MCAP has been included in the HSE National Service Plan 2021.

The HSE will be responsible for the operation of the programme. The HSE will establish and maintain a register to facilitate the enrolment and recording of certain data including patient identifiers (in anonymised format), prescribers enrolled in the programme, as well as prescribed or supplied medical cannabis products.

Ministerial Licence under Section 14 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977-2016

Pending full operation of the MCAP and for medical indications not included in the MCAP, doctors may continue to utilise the Ministerial licensing route to prescribe medical cannabis for their patients, should they wish to do so.

In line with the Chief Medical Officer's advice, the granting of a licence for cannabis for medical purposes must be premised on an appropriate application being submitted to the Department of Health, 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.

This information can be found at the following links:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/1a5c4e-applying-to-the-minister-for-health-for-a-medical-cannabis-licence/

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/e35cb4-ministerial-licence-application-process/

It is important to note that 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. The Minister for Health has no role in this clinical decision-making process.