Medical cannabis needed 'as soon as possible'

MS Ireland says people are ‘extremely frustrated and tired’ of waiting for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis


People suffering with multiple sclerosis are “extremely frustrated and tired” of waiting for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, MS Ireland has said.

Emma Rogan, policy and information officer with Multiple Sclerosis Ireland, was responding to news that GPs are likely to be authorised to prescribed medicinal cannabis later this year.

“We have been waiting around for years for this and there have been a number of announcements that this was coming and nothing has happened. It has been fudged all along the way. Sufferers need this as soon as possible,” she said.

Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White, this week issued consultation documents on his plans to make a number of amendments to the Misuse of Drugs regulations and is seeking submissions on these by the end of the month.

Among his plans is one to authorise GPs to prescribe a newly authorised medicinal cannabis product, Sativex, particularly for the relief of the symptoms of spasticity in MS sufferers.

Sativex works as an inhaler. It relaxes the tension in muscles, which can cause mobility problems as well as high levels of pain.

Ms Rogan said: “Imagine having a cramp in your leg. Well, take than pain and multiply it by 10 and you will get an idea of what people are suffering.

“It is a huge amount of tension in the muscles. We’re talking about people not being able to walk, having to hold on to walls, not being able to dress, not being able to hold a cup of tea. We have been fighting for this for years.

“Anecdotally, we do know people are buying cannabis on the streets, and that is a completely unfair way to treat people, to make then have to do that. It’s not about people wanting to get out of their mind. It’s people wanting to live their lives with some basic dignity.”

MS Ireland would make a submission, she said, but stressed that sufferers had to see this product made available as soon as possible.

“We do wonder at this stage whether will we see anything on this in the lifetime of this Government.”