Possession and supply of controlled substances is subject to licence under the Misuse of Drugs legislative framework. Products under the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) are rescheduled under the framework but only while under the MCAP, outside of the MCAP they are still schedule 1 products subject to the strictest levels of control.
It is contrary to the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977-2016 to bring a UK-prescribed cannabis-based product into the Republic of Ireland.
For Irish patients 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 and is expected to commence in June 2021.
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 by a consultant or a GP 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:
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.