-Harris cannabis access programme would be hugely restrictive and totally unworkable, says PBP TD
In a statement, prior to this morning’s Oireachtas Health committee hearing on his Medicinal Cannabis Bill, People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, has said that the Bill is based on the best scientific and expert evidence and is the best way to ensure safe and regulated access to many thousands of people suffering with illness and pain, who could benefit from the product. The Joint Committee on Health will meet today to discuss Deputy Kenny’s Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill at 9.00 a.m.
Deputy Kenny said the alternative cannabis access programme being proposed by Minister Simon Harris would be hugely restrictive and totally unworkable, leaving the vast majority of those who could benefit from medicinal cannabis without access.
Deputy Kenny expressed great disappointment that Minister Harris and Fine Gael TD’s appeared to be ignoring the scientific advice presented by independent experts such as Professor Mike Barnes (Author of the Barnes report on Medicinal Cannabis) and Professor David Finn (Professor of Pharmacology & cannabinoid researcher), on which his bill was based.
Deputy Kenny pointed out that currently 5 other countries in the EU have adopted legislation similar to that contained in his bill, as have countries such as Canada, Australia, and a number of states in the US.
Mr Kenny said:
“We fail to understand why the model in other EU countries, giving wide access to medicinal cannabis but properly regulated, as proposed by our Bill, appears to be opposed by the government.
“The alternative access programme being proposed by Minister Harris would hugely restrictive and totally unworkable. It would, in fact, be a regressive step because it would not provide access for huge numbers of people who would benefit from cannabis for medicinal use.
“In contrast, our Bill is based on the best available evidence from experts in the field like Professor Mike Barnes and Professor David Finn.
“My only motivation is to have cannabis for medicinal use decriminalised for people who are suffering from illnesses such as chronic pain, MS, intractable epilepsy and other conditions. The Bill is quite clear and explicit that access is for medicinal use only, and only when recommended by a medical professional.
“The Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill provides for the regulation of cannabis for medicinal use and to do this proposes to establish a Cannabis Regulation Authority to regulate distribution by issuing licences under the Act. It also provides for a Cannabis Research Institute to improve the level of public knowledge and to develop research on the medicinal use of cannabis. Under the Act patients will be able to access from a pharmacy, with a doctor’s recommendation, a legally protected, secure supply of a quality-controlled cannabis-based product, that is effective, and safer than many authorised products, especially for pain relief. This is the kind of approach adopted in many other EU countries.
“The Barnes report and the research of Prof David Finn shows there is good evidence, for example, in favour of cannabis for medicinal use being used to treat chronic pain, and yet the strangely Minister Harris proposes to deny access to the many thousands suffering with chronic pain.
“The Government have provided no explanation why they have rejected much of the evidence provided by these two experts when it is this research and evidence that has informed the approach contained in our Bill.”