Good progress is being made in establishing the Medical Cannabis Access Programme:
1. clinical guidelines have been drawn up and published,
2. secondary legislation is being drafted,
3. cannabis products for use under the Programme, once reviewed as suitable for medical use, will be published on an ‘approved list’.
The Programme aims to facilitate access to certain ‘acceptable’ cannabis products which have not been authorised as medicines by a statutory Medicines Competent Authority. Such products are not subject to the same rigorous safety, quality and efficacy standards that are in place for medicines, nor are the producers subject to the same responsibilities as the marketing authorisation holders for authorised medicines.
Availability of cannabis products that are of an appropriate quality standard and are affordable to patients is critical in establishing the access programme. Officials in my department are working intensively on finding solutions to the supply of appropriate products for Irish patients.
In the meantime it is open to a medical practitioner wishing to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes for an individual patient under their care, to apply to the Minister for Health for a licence, under Section 14 of The Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2016 and the Regulations made thereunder.
It should be noted that it is the decision of the clinician, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe or not prescribe a particular treatment for a patient under their care.
The Department of Health website contains detailed information on medical cannabis, including clinical guidance on the use of medical cannabis. It is continuously updated.