The Minister for Health has signed legislation which will allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme on a pilot basis for five years.
The Programme will facilitate access to cannabis-based products for medical use in line with legislation.
The first stage of the Access Programme is for potential suppliers to apply to have their medical cannabis products assessed for suitability for medical use.
Currently no medical cannabis products are available in Ireland, however, this legislation now means that commercial operators 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 to the Irish market.
Once suitable medical cannabis products are made available by suppliers, the Access Programme will make it possible for a medical consultant to prescribe a listed cannabis-based treatment for a patient under his or her care for the following medical conditions, where the patient has failed to respond to standard treatments:
"Today is a significant milestone," said Simon Harris TD.
"I am so pleased to be here today to advance this Programme and help the lives of many families across the country."
He stressed that there are no plans to legalise cannabis in Ireland and the offences and penalties for unauthorised supply and possession of controlled substances remain unchanged.