Medicinal cannabis bill clears second stage in Dáil

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

A private member’s bill to make cannabis available for medicinal purposes has passed the second stage in the Dáil.

The Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 was proposed by People Before Profit TDs Gino Kenny and Richard Boyd Barrett.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the Government would not oppose the bill at second stage as it was “clear there is much common ground on this across the Oireachtas”.

However, Mr Harris said he did not want to see the bill become law before the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HRPA) completes its review of medicinal cannabis in mid-January.

He also objected to provisions of the bill which remove references to cannabis from the Misuse of Drugs Acts.

Mr Harris told the Dáil: “Clearly there is much common ground on all sides of the House and with people in all parties and none.

“That is why, despite having significant objections to some elements of the Bill, as I outlined, it would send the wrong message to so many people who have contacted us all with their personal stories to divide the Dáil. They want to see action and the Dáil moving on this issue.

“I do not intend to oppose the Bill on Second Stage; in passing that Stage, it would send a strong message to the people and patients of Ireland and their families and carers that we want and intend to see progress in this area.

“My caveat, as Minister for Health, is that I need to receive the HPRA and clinical medical advice before I would be in a position to act. I expect to receive that at the end of January.

“I must have due regard to my duties and obligations as Minister for Health and I want to stress the importance of receiving the recommendations of the HPRA before we could perhaps move the Bill to the legislative scrutiny stage at committee.”

He added: “I am hopeful these recommendations will coincide with the output of the committee’s own deliberations.”

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