The Deputy will be aware that I have recently 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.
As yet no medical cannabis products are available for use under the MCAP and 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.
I am pleased to say that there are a number of suppliers have expressed an interest in supplying the Irish market, however it is not possible to give a specific date on which this products will be available for patients.
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.
Full information on how to apply for a Ministerial Licence is available on the Department's website.