Medical cannabis is to be made available in Ireland for the first time.
A new five-year pilot scheme is set to get underway, after the necessary legislation was signed today.
Cannabis-based medicines will only be an option for people living with specific conditions.
The conditions covered under the new scheme are:
- spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy
Cannabis treatments will have to be prescribed by a specialist consultant, and will only be considered if all other treatments have failed.
Once cannabis products are approved for use in Ireland, producers and suppliers will be able to start importing to pharmacists here.
Health Minister Simon Harris said today is a significant milestone, while stressing there are no plans to legalise cannabis more generally.
Today I signed regulations to set up a compassionate access programme for medicinal cannabis in Ireland for certain conditions. A huge amount of work has been undertaken to get here. Thank you to the patient advocates & the dedicated clinicians who drew up the Clincial Guidelines pic.twitter.com/nv4PwHDTUB
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) June 26, 2019
He said: "For years, families have fought for this programme to be established and for years, we have faced many challenges, obstacles and hurdles.
"I am so pleased to be here today to advance this programme and help the lives of many families across the country. "
People Before Profit's Gino Kenny - a long-time campaigner for medical cannabis availability - welcomed the new scheme.
However, he said he'd be meeting with health officials to 'quiz them on the details'.
Deputy Kenny pointed out that the scheme is "quite restrictive", and doesn't cover conditions such as chronic pain.