The Dáil has passed a bill to make cannabis available in Ireland for medicinal use, after the Government said it would not oppose the legislation.
Put forward by People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, the bill seeks to legalise and regulate cannabis products, which are used for medical purposes.
Speaking after the bill was passed, Mr Kenny praised Minister for Health Simon Harris for his position in not opposing the bill, while thanking all of those who supported the legislation.
Earlier Mr Kenny said his bill intended to make cannabis available to those with chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, MS, fibrmyalgia and, under a doctor’s recommendation, would help to alleviate symptoms of illness.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Kenny said that research showed cannabis can help a lot of people.
He said it would be up to a doctor to decide if a patient might benefit from the use of the drug.
Mr Kenny said he hoped the medical profession would come on board to support the use of the drug once it has been approved by the Health Products Regulatory Authority.
Minister Harris said that although he has concerns about some elements of the bill, he will not oppose its progression to Committee Stage.
Mr Harris asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority to advise him on the scientific and clinical value of cannabis as a medicine.
He said he wants to receive that advice from the agency before progressing the legislation any further.
The minister also indicated that amendments would have to be made to the proposed bill to avoid the unintended effect of making cannabis legal for recreational use.
Speaking on RTÉ’s News At One, Minister Harris said he strongly believes that Ireland needs to take a look at policy in relation to medicinal cannabis, saying a number of countries have already taken the steps to make it available.
He said he has met a number of patients and patient groups over the last few months who have highlighted their belief that it could relieve pain.
Tonight’s Dáil debate is important, he said, adding that he hopes it sends a signal to Irish patients that politicians want to see movement on this.
But he added that as Minister for Health he has to carry out the appropriate checks.
The legislation is expected to be supported by a majority of TDs in the Dáil.
A British consultant neurologist with many years of experience in the NHS has said legalising medicinal cannabis is a progressive step and a move he “totally welcomes.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Professor Mike Barnes said it should be prescribed for conditions that meet the criteria, prefably by a doctor trained in medicinal cannabis.
Professor Barnes said he would like the UK to move towards legalising medicinal cannabis.