Medical cannabis is to be made available in Ireland for the first time.
The Health Minister has signed a new law which will make it an option for people living with specific conditions.
Cannabis-based medicines will have to be prescribed by a consultant, and the patient will have to be monitored.
Medicinal cannabis will be available to some people living with the following conditions:
- Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis
- Intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
- Severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy
The cannabis-based drugs will only be considered if all standard treatments have failed to work.
The Health Minister hopes the decision will "facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons, where conventional treatment has failed".
Simon Harris stressed that "there are no plans to legalise cannabis in this country".
Medical Cannabis Trial
Cannabis-based medicines are being legalised on a five-year trial basis.
Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne described it as "an important and positive step forward".
Once the new law is in place, the makers of approved cannabis medicines will be able to start importing to pharmacists in Ireland.
Pharmacists will then be able to dispense the approved cannabis medicines to those with a valid prescription.
The Department of Health has stressed the offences and penalties for unauthorised supply and possession of cannabis have not changed.