Minister Harris publishes report on medical cannabis

The Minister for Health has announced a compassionate access programme for cannabis-based treatments.

Minister Harris today published a report on the potential use of cannabis for medical purposes.

The report, by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, recommend that access to cannabis should be controlled and confined to the treatment of specified conditions.

The HPRA also stated that the scientific evidence supporting the safe and effective use of cannabis products for medical treatment is insufficient and at times conflicting.

The Minister thanked the HPRA and the members of the Expert Review Group for their work on this report which he described as a ‘milestone’ in the development of policy on medicinal cannabis.

“I am very pleased to publish this report which reviews the scientific data and provides an overview of the approaches other countries have taken to medicinal cannabis. I understand this is a matter of great concern to many patients, to many colleagues in the Oireachtas and to members of the general public who have contacted me.

"I believe this report marks a significant milestone in developing policy in this area. This is something I am eager to progress but I am also obligated to proceed on the basis of the best clinical advice," he said.

The HPRA report advised that, if a policy decision is taken to permit cannabis under an access programme, it should be for the treatment of patients with:

    • Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis resistant to all standard therapies and interventions whilst under expert medical supervision;

    • Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, despite the use of standard anti-emetic regimes whilst under expert medical supervision;

    • Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy that has failed to respond to standard anticonvulsant medications whilst under expert medical supervision.

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