Family had to sell home after HSE fails to reimburse funds for medicinal cannabis

Legislation ‘soon’ on access programme for drug for specific conditions – Taoiseach

A family who were refused reimbursement by the HSE for medical cannabis for their five-year-old daughter have been forced to sell their home, the Dáil has heard.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said it was outrageous what was happening to people trying to access medicinal cannabis as he highlighted the case of a Co Sligo family.

Mr Kenny, a long-time campaigner for access to medicinal cannabis, said the family contacted him last week about their five-year-old daughter Lucia.

“They have sought reimbursement for medicinal cannabis but have been turned down and have to sell the family home to pay for the future healthcare of their daughter.”


The Dublin South-West TD appealed for the cannabis access programme to be started because of the suffering of families.

Mr Kenny also criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for his response last week when Mr Kenny raised the cannabis access progamme.

He said Mr Varadkar’s behaviour had been “outrageous” after he had waited five weeks for a reply to a questions he had submitted.

Mr Kenny said the Taoiseach’s response had been “completely disrespectful to me and the people and families who have been campaigning for access to medicinal cannabis”.

Mr Varadkar told him he could not comment on individual cases but “I appreciate the difficulties in the case and I am very sorry to hear the details you have shared with us”.

He said he did not have access to all of the facts and added that “no Minister has the authority to intervene or direct the HSE in individual cases either”.

The Taoiseach said Minister for Health Simon Harris would soon bring forward secondary legislation to provide standardised medicinal cannabis on a pilot basis for five years.

The medicinal cannabis access programme will make it possible for medical consultants to prescribe cannabis-based treatments for patients under their care for conditions for which there is evidence that cannabis-based treatments are effective as a medicine.

The programme will be confined to specific conditions including multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy treatment, and treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy.

Mr Varadkar said that in the meantime the system of special licensing would continue. He said 46 medicinal cannabis licences had been issued for 24 patients in cases such as this.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times