Ireland: very limited access to medical cannabis

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Ireland is in the process of making cannabis-based medication available, but to what extent?

It is official, Irish patients suffering from certain very precise pathologies will now be able to benefit from treatments made with cannabis.

It was after a long and dangerous campaign that the programme finally started on Wednesday 16 June. It is therefore a huge victory for the supporters of the plant. The deputy Gino Kenny also member of the Trotskyist party The People before the Profit expresses himself on this new decision through a tweet : "After five years, and a long and difficult campaign, people who meet the medical conditions will be able to get a prescription for medical cannabis for the very first time. This is a milestone day for Ireland, and I hope that access to medical cannabis will be extended to all.”

As implicitly stipulated in the tweet, access to this medication will indeed be very limited and reserved for very specific cases under the same model as in the United Kingdom. Only patients with a pathology list will be able to use it. The Medical Cannabis Access Program (MCAP) will therefore only be open to people with multiple sclerosis-related spasticity, chemotherapy-related nausea and severe epilepsy. Also read : Cannabis for MMA athletes? (weed-info.fr) In addition, another condition is added to the use of these treatments. Other “random” treatments will have to fail on the patient in order to consider taking cannabis-based medication. This is a limit that was put in place by Stephen Donnelly, Minister of Health and a member of the centre-right party.

Following this, Luke Ming Flanagan, Independent MEP, expressed his apprehension about the decision taken by the Minister of Health: “The fact that patients can only use the products authorized under the program if conventional treatments fail is a concern. They should be offered cannabis-based treatments on an equal footing with other medications.”

The list of authorized drugs is also very short with only four treatments available: CannEpil capsules, Aurora Sedamen Softgels capsules, Tilray oil and finally Aurora oil.

However, access to medical cannabis as recreational cannabis remains prohibited. Only the drugs mentioned are allowed. Physicians are still struggling to adopt medical cannabis as a conventional treatment because of a lack of sufficient clinical evidence to demonstrate the efficiency of the products.

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