Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he cannot give a commitment that legislation to allow for the use of medicinal cannabis will be completed within the 12 weeks pledged by Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Mr Kenny told AAA-PBP TD Gino Kenny that he could never give a commitment on the timescale for any legislation.
He added that a supervising paediatric neurologist would still need to authorise the use of medicinal cannabis whether or not the legislation was passed.
The Taoiseach pointed out that, in terms of the scheduling of legislation, the Dáil business committee dictated when any legislation came before the House. He added there was no way of knowing how many TDs might want to speak on a Bill.
The AAA-PBP TD had raised the issue as Vera and Paul Twomey from Cork watched from the public gallery. Ms Twomey walked 260 km from Cork to Leinster House to call for access to cannabis-based medicine for their daughter, Ava, who has a severe form of epilepsy.
The Dublin South-West TD had introduced the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill, which passed second stage in the Dáil, but is currently stalled at committee stage.
The deputy told the Taoiseach that there had been a 4½-hour meeting on Tuesday between the family and the Minister for Health and a number of TDs including himself and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
He said it was “quite a long, arduous meeting after a long walk”. He asked the Taoiseach to commit to having the legislation passed through the Oireachtas. He said the Minister for Health told the meeting that the Bill “plus any relevant statutory instrument will be legislated for in a 12-week timeframe”.
The Taoiseach told him, however, that a “medical consultant needs to supervise the prescribing of medicinal cannabis”. He said the next stage was that a meeting would take place between Ava’s parents, their GP and a consultant paediatric neurologist.
The Taoiseach added that the Minister had pointed out that “even if legislation is introduced, a supervising paediatric neurologist is still needed to authorise the prescribing of medicinal cannabis”.