• A license has been granted for medicinal cannabis for chronic pain sufferers for the first time in Ireland
  • Chronic Pain Ireland was instrumental in securing chronic pain on the ailments medicinal cannabis can be prescribed for
  • The measure has been approved on a temporary three-month basis
  • Around 20% of Ireland’s population suffers from chronic pain

Ireland’s Department of Health has granted a three-month license for medical cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain for the first time.

The medical use of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) had previously been restricted to those suffering from epilepsy, with 3-year-old Tristan Forde, from Cork, being granted the country’s first, and so far, only, prescription for THC.

The use of cannabis for medical purposes is still illegal in Ireland, but consultants can apply to Simon Harris, Ireland’s Minister for Health, for a license on a case-by-case basis

To qualify for a licence, a consultant must submit an application directly to Mr. Harris under Section 14 of the Misuse of Drugs Act as well as in accordance with Part 3, Section 6 of The Misuse of Drugs Regulations Act 2017.

Once approved, an initial starting dose of cannabis will be administered by a trained medical professional, who will monitor the patient and adjust the dose accordingly.

Chronic Pain Ireland (CPI) was instrumental in achieving this victory for patients suffering from chronic pain.

While the use of medical cannabis was in fact legalised (under similar restrictions) last year for patients suffering from MS, nausea in chemotherapy and epilepsy, chronic pain was left off the list.

Chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids, and the majority of clinical studies, meta-analyses and systematic reviews conclude that cannabis or cannabinoids can be effective in alleviating certain types of chronic pain.
Professor David Finn

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, William McLoughlin BL, CPI’s national secretary explained why the national charity fought to get chronic pain on the list of ailments cannabis can be used to legally treat:

“Some people are desperate due to chronic pain. I personally know of people who use cannabis for chronic pain.

“Some say it works, some say it doesn’t. But you must always go to your doctor.”

The previous model for the use of THC for patients was based upon recommendations from the Health Products Regulatory Authority, and did not include recommendations for chronic pain.

 

Led by Mr. Mcloughlin, the CPI drafted their own copy of the application process, accessible via their website, and can be used as a basis for any application to the Minister for Health.

 

Discussing the importance of the ruling, professor of pharmacology and therapeutics David Finn, who is also the co-director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway, said:

 

“This is a very interesting and important development which demonstrates a recognition by Irish medical professionals and the minister for health of the potential therapeutic value of medicinal cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain.

Approximately 20% of the Irish population suffers from chronic pain, and up to 40% of patients report that the management of their pain is inadequate, either due to the limited efficacy of existing treatments or unacceptably high levels of side-effects.

Chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids, and the majority of clinical studies, meta-analyses and systematic reviews conclude that cannabis or cannabinoids can be effective in alleviating certain types of chronic pain.”

The Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016, is now entering its third stage of debate and will go before the Oireachtas health committee early next year.