The review was ordered after the mother of a six-year-old girl with epilepsy began a walk from Cork to Dublin in a bid to get Health Minister Simon Harris to take action.
Vera Twomey, mother of Ava, claims an oil derived from the cannabis plant, and available in a hemp shop, is helping to ease the hundreds of seizures Ava suffers from with the rare drug-resistant Dravet syndrome.
Mr Harris met Ms Twomey in June before calling for the review by the Health Products Regulatory Authority. “This is not a discussion about decriminalising cannabis in any way, shape, or form — it is about reviewing our current policy and seeking to inform ourselves of the latest medical and scientific evidence on the potential medical benefits of cannabis for some people with certain medical conditions,” he said.
Ms Twomey, from Aghabullogue, Co Cork, launched an online petition to raise awareness about CBD oil which contains none or only trace levels of the THC ingredients traditionally associated with using cannabis to get high. She revealed she had called off her walk after speaking to the minister by phone and agreeing to meet him next Wednesday.
It is understood Ms Twomey has been using Charlotte’s Web oil but fears that her daughter will build a resistance to it leaving her with no remedy for repeated seizures.
Mr Harris said he understands the difficulty Ms Twomey is in. “I know that many patients believe cannabis should be a treatment option for their medical condition.
“However, cannabis is not currently an authorised medicine and has not gone through the normal regulatory procedures for medicines which are designed to protect patients and ensure treatments are supported by good evidence of their effectiveness.”
The Oireachtas Health Committee is planning to discuss the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes later this month. People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny proposed legislation in the Dáil to legalise it earlier this year.