Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has today announced provision for the delivery and funding of the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme.
Once suitable medical cannabis products are made available by suppliers, the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme will make it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe a listed cannabis-based treatment for a patient under their care.
The treatment will only be available to patients with specific medical conditions where standard treatments have failed to work.
These medical conditions include spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and severe and refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy.
Legislation underpinning the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme was enacted in June 2019.
The first stage of the Programme was to have potential suppliers apply to the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Authority) to have their cannabis-based products assessed for suitability for medical use.
Currently, four products have been assessed as acceptable by the HPRA, though further products are currently being assessed.
Speaking on the annoucement, the Minister said that the extra €4 billion added to the Health Budget in October, shows the determination of the Government to fund the expansion of and improvements in health and social care services.
“One of the improvements in our Health Services that will benefit from this extra funding is the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme which has been added to the HSE Service Plan for 2021,” he said.
“It follows the clear pathway laid out by the Health Products Regulatory Authority in their expert report ‘Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review.
“Ultimately it will be the decision of the medical consultant, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe a particular treatment, including a cannabis-based treatment, for a patient under their care. It is important to state that there are no plans to legalise cannabis in this country.”