The Health Minister says there are no plans to legalise cannabis in Ireland.
Simon Harris is rejecting claims by an alliance of senior doctors that the country is 'sleepwalking' into the general legalisation of the drug.
A report from a working group on the possession of drugs for personal use is to be brought to Cabinet within the next few weeks.
Mr Harris said there was no plan to legalise the drug but there was a plan "in relation to medicinal reasons" and a plan to "tackle the underlying issues" surrounding drug addiction.
"You have to take a health-led approach," said Mr Harris.
"Deciding that the only thing that we're going to do for a drug addict is put them in touch with the criminal justice system will not break addiction."
He added: "It's not about legalising. It's about being compassionate and it's about the helping hand rather than the handcuff."