Press Release

Statement from Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, regarding medicinal cannabis

Minister Harris today announced that he wants to review Ireland’s policy on medicinal cannabis with the best clinical advice and expertise. As part of this review, the Minister has asked the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Authority, formerly the Irish Medicines Board), to provide him with their expert scientific advice.

“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”, the Minister said.

Commenting, Minister Harris said; “since coming into office I have had initial discussions with my officials, medical experts, patients and members of the Oireachtas. I am therefore very pleased to understand from the Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Dr Harty, that the Committee is planning to discuss this issue later this month.”

Cannabis for medical purposes is available in a number of countries, eg. Netherlands, Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Malta, Croatia and certain states in the United States. However it remains strictly controlled in Ireland. In the countries where it is available, it is strictly regulated but available on prescription from doctors and supplied in a standardised form through pharmacists.

Minister Harris continued, “I met with Vera Twomey, mother of Ava, in June and I understand 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 for medicines which are designed to protect patients and ensure treatments are supported by good evidence of their effectiveness”

Minister Harris looks forward to hearing back from the HPRA and to the outcome of the deliberations of the Oireachtas Health Committee.