Minister: ‘Patients must get cannabis products from the Netherlands’

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The Minister of State for Mental Health, Jim Daly, has said that licensed patients must continue to obtain their cannabis products by travelling to a pharmacy in the Hague, until acceptable medical cannabis products are available for use in Ireland.

Cannabis oil products cannot be commercially exported from the Netherlands, due to a policy of the Netherlands’ government.

Anyone who is prescribed these products will have to continue to travel to the Hague to obtain them, unless the Dutch export barrier is removed. This is despite the fact that such cannabis products might eventually be listed as products that may be accessed under an Irish programme.

A medical use access programme for cannabis was to be introduced “shortly” in Ireland, Daly said. He added that there was no end date, but it was mentioned every month at the management meeting in the Department of Health.

It was open to a registered medical practitioner to apply for a ministerial licence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. Such a licence, if granted, enabled a practitioner legally to prescribe medical cannabis for a named patient.

“We recognise the difficulty that presents to families, but until we get our own programme up and running, we have to operate in that context,” he told the Dáil recently.

The current arrangements were slammed by Irish Solidarity–People Before Profit Deputy Gino Kenny. Given that 16 licences have been granted to 16 individuals in the State, he believed the State should intervene to provide a distribution company to go to Holland and bring the product to those 16 individuals’ pharmacies.

He could not think of any other medicine that a patient or nominated person had to travel to another jurisdiction for, in order to bring back a filled prescription.

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