Medicinal use of cannabis to be reviewed

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According to the health minister, the usage of medicinal cannabis has to be reviewed.

Simon Harris announced that the organization that regulates questions about medicines, Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), was asked to recheck the benefits of the drug. It may have some useful effect on certain people with certain medical conditions.

According to the message, the question is not about decriminalizing the usage of the drug at all. The request was sent to check and review the current medical policies and to seek new information about the potential of the drug. It may have some medical benefits unknown to us yet.

Mr Harris may have a second meeting with a mother of 6-year old Ava who uses legal cannabidiol oil to fight her disease. She suffers from Dravet syndrome, which is a type of epilepsy that causes seizures very often. The girl needs a 24/7 care while using the oil, and it’s bought legally as a hemp product.

“I know that many patients believe cannabis should be a treatment option for their medical condition,” Mr Harris, of Aghabullogue, Co Cork, said. “However, cannabis is not currently an authorised medicine and has not gone through the normal regulatory procedures for medicines which are designed to protect patients and ensure treatments are supported by good evidence of their effectiveness.”

 The Oireachtas health committee is also looking at the issue and the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit group has recently tabled a bill on cannabis for medicinal use.

Billy Kelleher, the Fianna Fail spokesman on health, said that his party would support medicinal use of the drug if the procedures followed were the same as those used when the HPRA authorised sativex, a cannabis base treatment for multiple sclerosis, in 2012.

“If this path was followed, we would have no difficulty with cannabis-based medicines being prescribed to alleviate suffering,” Mr Kelleher said. “It should be strictly controlled and the use of cannabis and cannabis-related products for medicinal purposes should be regulated like other medicines.”

Sinn Fein did not advocate any change in the law for medicinal use. “Our final position will be guided by our commitment to individual and community harm reduction,” a spokesman said.

The Labour Party said it supported any product once it was approved by the HPRA. The Green Party has called for the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use and legalisation for medicinal use.

Cannabis for medical purposes is available in several countries, including the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Malta, Croatia and certain states in the US.