Updated on May 16, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
With medical marijuana regulations still in development, understanding how to medicate legally in Ireland is more important than ever. While Ireland doesn’t yet have a formal medicinal cannabis program, patients still can get and use legal medication.
Certain patients can use medical marijuana if they have a license received directly from the Health Minister’s office. The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017 lets patients work with their doctors to appeal to the government for the use of substances like cannabis and opiates.
The method that the patient uses medical marijuana is determined by the physician and Health Minister. A license issued to a patient experiencing chronic pain only permitted marijuana teas and vaping, expressly forbidding smoking. We have yet to see if that will become a policy in the country’s upcoming medicinal cannabis program.
Health Minister Simon Harris expressed support of a medical marijuana program in 2017, but he has few updates over a year later. The future program may be based on the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016, which was brought up for discussion most recently in November 2017.
While officials will likely propose changes, the current state of the bill establishes regulations for medicinal cannabis sales, licensing and research. The patient would get certification from a certified medical practitioner using a form approved by the proposed Cannabis Regulation Authority.
Recreational marijuana is completely banned in Ireland under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. The act bases possession penalties on whether the offender has marijuana for personal use. It gives personal possession more lenience than possession with the intent to sell or traffic.
The first two instances of personal possession only require a fine. But, any offense afterward could put the offender in jail for up to a year.
If the court doesn’t believe that the person has cannabis for personal use, the penalties get more severe. They can get a much higher fine or up to seven years in prison.
Under current law, patients can only get cannabis medicine on a case-by-case basis. To legally medicate, they must go through their doctor and the Minister of Health. Even when they finish this involved process, they won’t necessarily receive a license. A lack of set guidelines makes it incredibly difficult for patients to get access.
A lack of an Irish medical cannabis industry further limits access. When patients get their licenses, their medicine has to come from other countries like The Netherlands or grow at home. Imported medicine costs more than locally sourced cannabis, adding more financial barriers.
Medical professionals can handle cannabis if they keep the documentation required by the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017. In certain cases, they must have a register of the drugs they work with that details the quantity they have.
Patients who have a license issued from the Health Minister will not face legal persecution if they follow the terms outlined on their license, which could specify medicine type, medicine source and other factors in treatment.
With the establishment of an official medical marijuana program will hopefully come even more protections. Only a limited number of patients in Ireland have a license at the time of writing.
When Ireland finally puts a medical cannabis program in place, you want to know as soon as possible. At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we understand having up-to-date knowledge about laws and policies keeps our patients safe. For further updates on Irish medicinal cannabis regulations, keep an eye on our blog posts.