Medical consultants can now make an application for themselves and their patients to be registered for the medical cannabis access programme, it was announced on Thursday.
The Department of Health said registration by consultants and their patients on the Cannabis for Medical Use Register, to be operated by the Health Service Executive, would be required for the prescribing of cannabis-based products under the scheme.
The types of conditions that might benefit from medicinal cannabis include spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis; intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy; and severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said “This step forward will greatly assist patients who, under the supervision of their consultant, need to avail of medicinal cannabis products to alleviate the effects of their severe medical conditions. I now hope the programme continues to go on and grow and expand further, to best meet the needs of patients and families around Ireland.”
The Department of Health said the programme would require a dispensing fee to be agreed with community pharmacists and this process was ongoing.
It also announced the continuation of a ministerial licence programme which enables 63 patients to avail of medicinal cannabis products, sourced from a pharmacy in The Hague in the Netherlands.
Since April of last year, owing to Covid-19 travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, the department had organised courier collections of patients’ cannabis products in the Netherlands and had these products delivered to them at their homes. It said this initiative would continue.
“It is hoped that, over time as more acceptable products are made available on the Medical Cannabis Access Programme, the ministerial licence programme patients may be treated under the programme. However, this is a clinical choice to be made by the patients and their clinicians.”