Ireland begins to test a medical marijuana program for 5 years so that authorized companies can supply the national market
Recreational marijuana is illegal in Ireland while medicinal use requires case-by-case approval by the Minister of Health.
Ireland has launched a five-year medical cannabis pilot program, which opens up business opportunities for qualified companies to supply the Irish market after their products meet the requirements of the law.
Medicinal cannabis products may be dispensed at pharmacies. The Irish Health Service Executive will cover the cost of prescriptions for patients with specific medical conditions, provided that cannabis treatment is initiated by a qualified consultant, online reimbursement approval is accepted, and all conventional treatments have been exhausted.
But the simple registration of patients in the program does not imply that the reimbursement of costs is automatically approved.
To date, only a small number of patients have received special government approval for medical cannabis.
The new rules will make access to medical cannabis easier because it puts the decision in the hands of medical consultants.
Health Minister Simon Harris has told the media that the program is a historic landmark for public health in Ireland since the purpose of this program is to facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons, in those cases where those that conventional treatment has failed.
Harris added that as soon as providers make available appropriate medical cannabis products, the medical marijuana access program will allow a medical consultant to prescribe a cannabis treatment for a patient who is under their care and always for certain diseases in which the patient has not responded to the usual treatments.
Similar programs are being carried out in countries such as Denmark or France, where the program is carried out for a limited period of time before drawing definitive conclusions.
The Department of Health of Ireland has provided a list for potential suppliers and importers of cannabis-based medical products:
Appropriate medical marijuana products are defined as “specific controlled medicines” in Irish legislation.
Only products that are on the list of “specific controlled medicines” can be prescribed by medical consultants.
Companies must complete an application form if they want their products to be approved. In this regard, a series of regulations have been created on how to apply for a license to sell or import medical cannabis products, packaging and labeling requirements and others that must be presented to the Health Products Regulatory Authority.
For their part, medical consultants will be trained to prescribe medicinal cannabis on certain occasions and for certain diseases. But above all they can prescribe medical marijuana when conventional treatments have been ineffective for the patient’s illness. The cases in which medical consultants may prescribe medicinal cannabis are:
The spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
Severe refractory epilepsy (resistant to conventional treatment).
Offences and penalties for unauthorised supply and possession of controlled substances remain unchanged in Ireland.