Health Minister announces plans to review Ireland's medicinal cannabis policy

Simon Harris has stressed this is "not a discussion about decriminalising cannabis"

Health Minister announces plans to review Ireland's medicinal cannabis policy

Image: Gareth Fuller PA Wire/PA Images

The Health Minister has said he wants a review of Ireland's medicinal cannabis policy.

Simon Harris has stressed, however, that it is "not a discussion about decriminalising cannabis in any way shape or form".

While research into its benefits in areas such as cancer treatment continues, evidence has suggested medicinal cannabis can help with the treatment of issues such as chronic pain and muscle control problems.

Cannabis for medical purposes is strictly controlled in Ireland, compared to the easier availability with prescription in countries such as Canada, the Netherlands and parts of the US.

Minister Harris said he has asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to provide their expertise in a review of its availability here.

In a statement, the Health Minister said: “This is not a discussion about decriminalising cannabis in any way shape or form, it is about reviewing our current policy and seeking to inform ourselves of the latest medical and scientific evidence on the potential medical benefits of cannabis for some people with certain medical conditions.

“I know that many patients believe cannabis should be a treatment option for their medical condition. 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," he added.

The issue is also due to be discussed by the Oireachtas Health Committee later this month.