Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis remains on Dáil agenda

Health committee warns enacting Bill will lead to legislative contradictions

Private Members' legislation legalising medicinal cannabis remains on the Dáil agenda, despite the Oireachtas Committee on Health saying it is legally flawed.

Committee chairman Dr Michael Harty said the legal advice was that enacting the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill, as it stood, would create legislative contradictions between it and existing Acts.

“Resolving such contradictions by amendment of this Bill, or of other Acts, appears to the committee to be an onerous undertaking, quite apart from the further redrafting which would be necessary to avoid undesirable policy consequences,’’ he added.

Minister of State for Justice David Stanton said sometimes it was better to start from scratch, redraft the legislation and resubmit it, if it was not possible to amend it. "One must be very careful not to have unintended consequences at the end of the process that could result in much damage,'' he added.


He said it appeared the majority in the House wanted the Bill to proceed to committee stage and the Government would not oppose it at this time.

He said an expert reference group, established by Minister for Health Simon Harris, had made great progress in finalising the clinical guidelines for prescribing cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Prescribing cannabis

Mr Stanton said it was also important to note it remained open to consultants to prescribe cannabis treatment for a patient if granted a licence to do so by the Minister for Health.

“In such cases, it is the decision of the patient’s consultant to prescribe cannabis for a patient under his or her care,’’ he added.

Vera Twomey, who has been seeking medicinal cannabis for her daughter, Ava, who has a severe form of epilepsy, assembled supporters in Leinster House on Thursday.

Ms Twomey and her daughter currently live in the Netherlands where there is access to the treatment.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, who introduced the Bill, told the Dáil Ms Twomey had collapsed earlier outside Leinster House.

Mr Kenny claimed the Bill had been sabotaged over the past year, adding he was shocked by the shambolic nature of the pre-legislative scrutiny.

“I believe it was politically motivated in some ways,’’ he added. “It was rigged.’’

He said he believed the health committee looked for every excuse to stymie progress of the Bill. “I am not saying the Bill is perfect by any means,’’ said Mr Kenny. “However, it is always amendable in my eyes.’’

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times