New Government Report Backs Legalising Marijuana For Medicinal Purposes

Cannabis should be made available to treat a limited range of medical conditions, according to a new report that will be published later today by the Department of Health.

The Cannabis for Medical Use report, which was put together by Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), makes eight recommendations and states that the drug clearly has potential therapeutic benefits for some patients. However, it stresses that cannabis should only be made available to patients with specific conditions and as a last resort for those who don’t respond to more traditional drug treatments.

The reports states that scientific evidence about the benefits of the drug is "conflicting", but concedes that the anecdotal reports of its effectiveness are “compelling”. The chairperson of the group behind the report, Professor Tony O'Brien said they "cautiously advise" for the restricted use of the drug for medicinal purposes.

“Access to medicinal cannabis is ultimately a societal and policy decision which has to balance the lack of scientific evidence against patient-led demand,” the report states.

The full report will be published later today by Minister for Health, Simon Harris. In this morning’s Irish Times, the Health Minister is quoted as saying that he sees this report as “a significant milestone in developing policy in this area”. He adds, “This is something I am eager to progress but I am also obligated to proceed on the basis of the best clinical advice.”

The first big step forward to make marijuana legal for medicinal purposes was made last December when a Bill on exploring the possibility of doing so was passed in the Dáil. It had been put before the Dáil by People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, who talks about his Bill in the Hot Press Annual 2017.

At the time, the government announced that it would not block the proposal but would rather seek some changes to its wording, which meant that the Bill was then automatically progressed onto the committee stage in the Dáil.

This was something of a u-turn from Fine Gael who had originally planned to reject the Bill. They had said at the time that they wouldn’t make any decision on the issue while awaiting the recommendations of a review by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which is out today. But the Bill not only received the backing of Fine Gael but also Sinn Féin, Labour, the Social Democrats, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

In recent Hot Press interviews, several senior Ministers, such as Finian McGrath, Paschal Donohoe, John Hallagian and junior finance minister Eoghan Murphy have all come out in favour of making cannabis legal for medicinal purposes.


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