Ireland’s First Cannabis Clinic Opens Four Years After Medical Program Launches

November 6, 2023 · High Times

Medicann is launching the first medical cannabis clinic in Ireland and is immediately accepting patients who believe they may be eligible for treatment, according to a news release. The clinic will cover “all conditions treatable with medicinal cannabis,” not limited to those recognized by Ireland’s Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme.

Currently, there are three qualifying conditions included under the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme: spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

A Step Forward for Medical Cannabis in Ireland

While Medicann has only just launched, patients have been able to register their interest in obtaining medical cannabis through the clinic online since August of this year.

Interested parties can make a virtual appointment with Medicann, which will then conduct an evaluation through its secure health portal to establish whether or not individuals are eligible for a medical cannabis prescription through products including flower, oils and topical creams. Through the government’s Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme, qualifying patients can also apply for funding to cover the costs of medicinal cannabis. 

Medicann Ireland CEO Gary Whipp said he noticed the potential for medical cannabis to improve quality of life for citizens early on, when it first became legal in the U.K. back in 2018.

“We have been providing access to this natural medication for patients that are eligible for the last four years,” Whipp said. “As the first clinic to launch in Ireland, we know patients have been waiting for local access to this medication, and we are very much looking forward to helping patients manage their condition better, and improve their quality of life under the guidance and help of our specialist Doctors here at Medicann.”

The Medical Cannabis Access Programme first launched after Minister of Health Simon Harris signed legislation on June 26, 2019 to allow for its operation on a five-year pilot basis. After the five years is up, the program will undergo a review. It was designed to facilitate access to cannabis-based products for medical use in line with legalization and clinical guidance surrounding it. 

Recreational Cannabis and Ireland

Previously, medical cannabis was only available to select patients in the country, while recreational cannabis remains illegal.

“The purpose of this programme is to facilitate compassionate access to cannabis for medical reasons, where conventional treatment has failed,” Harris said at time. “Ultimately it will be the decision of the medical consultant, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe a particular treatment, including a cannabis-based treatment, for a patient under their care.”

The sentiment around recreational cannabis hasn’t changed much in the four years since the medical program launched. Even among citizens themselves, support for adult-use cannabis has remained low, though it’s increased over time, according to a study released earlier this year.

The survey found that minority support for recreational cannabis legalization is still the standard, though support increased from 19.1% in 2006/07 to 29.9% in 2019/20. Support was highest among recent cannabis users and those who had used cannabis in the past, those who know cannabis users, those who perceive cannabis use as “not being a great risk” and those who don’t disapprove of cannabis use.

While the reasons behind the increase in support weren’t immediately clear, authors speculated that “the recent, predominantly positive, public discourse in Ireland in relation to the potential medical utility of cannabis-based products may have led to Irish people having a more positive view of cannabis in general.” (Full Story)

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