Health Minister Announces Review of Policy on Medicinal Cannabis

The Health Minister has announced a review of Ireland's policy on medicinal cannabis. Cannabis is available for medical use in a number of countries including the Netherlands, Australia and parts of the United States.

It remains strictly controlled in Ireland, and this review is expected to be made up of "the best clinical advice and expertise".

The Minister has asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority, to provide him with their expert scientific advice.

Simon Harris was very clear in explaining that the review is "not a discussion about decriminalising cannabis in any way shape or form", but about looking at the "latest medical and scientific evidence on the potential medical benefits of cannabis".

The review came about after Minister Harris met the mother of a six-year-old girl, who is living with an extremely rare, drug-resistant form of epilepsy.

Ava Twomey's mum, Vera, believes cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a form of medicinal marijuana, can help her daughter.

Minister Harris said he understands "the very difficult situation the family are in. I look forward to meeting with Vera again in the coming days."

“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", the Minister explained

MS Ireland's Statement - Friday, 4th November 2016

MS Ireland is the national services, information and research organisation supporting people with MS: Ava Battles, MS Ireland Chief Executive comments, “MS Ireland welcomes the call by Minister for Health Simon Harris TD for a review of Ireland's policy on medicinal cannabis. We have continually expressed disappointment that Sativex, licensed product, remains inaccessible to those with MS that need it. Ongoing research into the benefits of medicinal cannabis and cannabis-based medication extract for the symptoms of MS has shown the efficacy of such treatments to reduce spasticity, pain, sleep disturbances and other symptoms associated with MS.

MS Ireland believes people with MS should have access to all and any appropriate and licensed treatments that would improve or assist in the management of their condition. 

Should further evidence emerge through research of other safe and effective ways for cannabis and it's components to be used in medicinal products to treat and manage MS, existing legislation should not be a barrier to such products being made available to people with MS who would benefit from them."

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