Thursday, 9 November 2017
Department of Health
Cannabis for Medicinal Use
For the purposes of clarity the following information may be helpful.
The two most common active components found in cannabis oil are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
- CBD is derived from cannabis. However, since CBD is not psychoactive it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, therefore does not require a licence. CBD oil is not authorised as a medicinal product, however, it is sometimes marketed as a nutritional or dietary supplement.
- THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. Under the Misuse of Drugs legislation products containing THC are strictly controlled and possession is unlawful except under licence.
As the Deputy will be aware, in March 2017, on foot of the conclusions from the Health Products Regulatory Authority’s report ‘Cannabis for Medical Use – A Scientific Review’, I established an Expert Reference Group to advise on the development of a Cannabis for Medical Use Access Programme.
The Expert Group is tasked with the development of clinical guidance for healthcare professionals treating patients through the Access Programme. The Expert Group is also considering other operational aspects for the implementation of the Access Programme. Officials in my Department are working on secondary legislation to underpin the programme. This work is well advanced but will take a number of months to complete.
The Deputy will be aware that under the Misuse of Drugs legislation it is open to the Minister for Health to grant a licence to an Irish registered medical practitioner for access to medical THC-based cannabis for a named patient. The granting of a licence is based on submission of an application to the Minister which is endorsed by a consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who is prepared to monitor the effects of treatment over time. To date two such applications has been successful.
Ultimately it is the decision of the prescribing clinician, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe or not prescribe any particular treatment, including cannabis, for a patient under their care.