Legislation to allow use of medicine containing cannabis


THE DEPARTMENT of Health says it hopes to bring forward legislative proposals by early 2013 enabling cannabis-based medicines to be prescribed in Ireland.

It said that notwithstanding reluctance to loosen controls on cannabis, expert advice is that Sativex, a drug containing cannabis extract, “is a valid treatment option”. Made by GW Pharma, Sativex is used for the relief of symptoms of spasticity by multiple sclerosis patients. It is already available in Northern Ireland.

The department says the Irish Medicines Board has completed an assessment and “based on quality, safety and efficacy, has recommended the approval of the product for the Irish market”.

The department says market authorisation of Sativex is dependent on changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act, which classes cannabis-based medicinal products as controlled substances. It is engaging with experts on how best to legally describe authorised cannabis-based medicinal products while retaining existing controls.

Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan last night welcomed the news on “humanitarian grounds”: “This is a good decision . . . they should now move quickly to get the necessary legislation . . . I still believe that cannabis should be fully decriminalised.”