Calls have been made for medicinal cannabis to be made more widely available for people who suffer from chronic pain.
It comes as the Health Products Regulatory Authority have approved two medicinal cannabis products. Aurora CBD Oil Drops and CannEpil will be available to a small number of Irish patients before Christmas.
Within weeks those suffering from three specific illnesses will be able to receive the drugs if prescribed. They can only receive the product if they have failed to respond to usual treatments, and if prescribed by a consultant. GPs cannot prescribe the medication.
The three conditions covered by these new rules are spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and severe epilepsy that has been resistant to treatment.
However, Solidarity TD Mick Barry said that the grounds on which medicinal cannabis can be prescribed should be widened to include those suffering from chronic pain.
He also said that GPs and not just consultants should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis.
“Congratulations are due to all the campaigners who have fought so hard and who have made this happen. But the majority of people who need medicinal cannabis are still excluded from the access programme and the grounds for prescription need to be widened to include those who are suffering from chronic pain,” the Cork North Central TD said.
The first bill aimed at legalising medicinal cannabis was brought before the Dáil by Deputy Barry’s Solidarity-People Before Profit Dail colleague Gino Kenny in 2016.
The Medical Cannabis Access Programme was signed into law in June 2019 by Minister for Health Simon Harris. The programme will facilitate access to cannabis-based medical products in line with legislation and is scheduled to run for five years.
The pilot programme will be reviewed after five years or as scientific evidence comes to light to support the use of cannabis for the effective and safe treatment of other medical conditions.
The Ministerial Licence scheme allowing some patients access to medicinal cannabis prior to this legislation being introduced will initially run concurrently with this Access Programme. However, many of the patients may be enrolled on to the Access Programme by their medical consultant in the near future.