Updated on August 8, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
In Ireland, an official medical marijuana program could come soon. But, at the time of writing, patients only have a few regulations to work with. As a patient, you can get a medical marijuana card, but only with the permission of the Health Minister himself.
Ireland does not have legal recreational marijuana. So, the only way to get safe and legal cannabis medicine is to get a license for it. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, nobody can legally possess marijuana for personal use unless they have a medical card.
When you use medicinal cannabis legally, you don’t have to worry about getting in trouble with the law. The medicine approved by a license comes from established medical companies, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Hopefully, an established medical marijuana program will make safe access easier than ever.
So far, Ireland only has a few statements from the Health Minister regarding a medical marijuana program. We know it will happen, but not when it will begin or any of the guidelines. But, patients can still directly request a medicinal cannabis license from the Health Minister’s office while we wait.
Under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017, patients can work with their doctors to apply for a medicinal cannabis license. When you apply for a license, your doctor will apply for their own unless they already have a medical marijuana patient. Once you both have permission, you can do the cannabis-related activities specified on your license.
Every license is accepted on a case-by-case basis. Two famous cases involve patients with chronic pain and seizures. Whether you qualify depends on how much research supports your condition’s responsiveness to cannabis medicine.
Patients who have the current form of medical cannabis license may have to renew it after a set period of time. For example, the first license issued for chronic pain needed recertification within three years.
On the other hand, famous Irish medical cannabis patient Tristan Cahalane doesn’t seem to have a requirement to renew. Current regulations don’t specify if a patient has to renew, and licenses have case-by-case rules.
Whether you have to recertify under the upcoming medical marijuana program or not, you should keep in touch with your doctor when taking cannabis medicine. Like any other medication, medical marijuana works best when you have the right dosage and product. Your recommending doctor will know best how to manage your medicinal cannabis treatment.
While you take medical marijuana, remember to monitor your symptoms and side effects closely. When you visit your physician, let them know about any changes, even if they’re minor.
A doctor can become eligible to manage your medical marijuana treatment when they help you apply for a license. As part of the application, they need to explain their rationale for recommending it and state the sources where they’ll obtain your medicine.
Since only about five licenses have been issued by the Health Minister, it’s uncertain how this process will apply to doctors who already have permission to work with cannabis. With a standardized medical marijuana program, hopefully doctors will have clearance to prescribe cannabis medicine like other controlled substances.
With Ireland’s program still in the works, your opinion matters more than ever. To get in touch with the Department of Health, visit their contact page featuring address and telephone information. Or, read the current iteration of the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 to see what government officials have been working on.