Health Committee refuse request to hear evidence of IMO and eminent consultant neurologist and international expert Professor Mike Barnes

Professor Mike Barnes

PBP TDs say deliberate suppression of scientific evidence and expert medical opinion totally undermines legitimacy of committee consideration of cannabis bill

People Before Profit TDs, Gino Kenny and Richard Boyd Barrett have said that the decision by the Health Committee to refuse a request to hear extensive evidence from Professor Mike Barnes and the Irish Medical Organisation in its consideration of the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill is “grossly negligent” and part of “cynical attempt to suppress expert medical evidence”. Any report that comes out of the health committee will have excluded expert advice on medicinal cannabis.

Earlier today, Gino Kenny received correspondence from the Health Committee clerk stating that it ‘did not propose to meet with further stakeholders in relation to the Bill.’

Deputy Kenny had written, last week, to the committee proposing that they should take evidence from Consultant Neurologist, Professor Mike Barnes, the author of the seminal report into medicinal cannabis for the English parliament, and Drs Cathal Ó Suilleabhain and Garrett McGovern of the IMO who had a motion passed supporting the rationale behind Deputy Kenny’s Bill at the IMO conference three weeks ago.

Last month the IMO passed a motion at their AGM which said that ‘The IMO urges the Government not to limit the availability of medicinal cannabis products in any future legislation by restricting their prescription to consultants and the indications for which they can be prescribed be informed by the evidence base.’ This undermines the government and HPRA argument that it should only be consultants that can prescribe medicinal cannabis.

Reacting to this news, Gino Kenny said: “I think that it is quite outrageous that the Health Committee is essentially excluding the expert witnesses in the field of medicinal cannabis from making representation to the committee and have decided to rush a head and produce a report that will be totally devoid of expert evidence on medicinal cannabis.

“I am urging the health committee and, specifically its chair Dr Harty, to reconsider this decision and call Dr Cathal Ó Suilleabhain and Dr Garrett McGovern of the IMO and Professor Barnes to give evidence to the committee.

“It is quite clear that the HPRA have been proven wrong in their conclusions by the IMO. The health committee need to hear the evidence from the doctors of this country and from Professor Mike Barnes or they will be producing a flawed report that will be excluding the scientific evidence.”

Richard Boyd Barrett said: “The decision of the Health Committee to refuse our request to hear evidence from the Irish Medical Organisation, who represent the doctors of this country and professor Mike Barnes, a consultant neurologist and one of the most eminent international experts on medicinal cannabis, exposes the cynical and concerted effort by the government and the main political parties to sabotage the medicinal cannabis bill.

“It totally exposes, as a lie, any claim by the committee or the government that they are basing their consideration of medicinal cannabis on scientific or medical evidence.

“It shows, on the contrary, that they are trying to kill the medicinal cannabis bill, purposely by suppressing the best medical and scientific evidence and opinion.

“It is a totally perverse decision that a committee charged with looking at the health of our citizens, refuses to hear evidence or heed the wishes of the doctors of this country or one of the most eminent international experts and medical professionals in the area of medicinal cannabis.

“The health committee have relied only on the evidence of the HPRA, who have no expertise in the area of medicinal cannabis whatsoever and who are 77% funded by the pharmaceutical industry, a sector with a vested interest in killing this bill.

“It is also shocking that in the area of so-called “new politics” that the government and bigger parties are planning to sabotage a bill that passed, unopposed, through the Dáil in December.

“If this cynical move succeeds and they achieve their aim of killing the medicinal cannabis bill, thousands of people who are suffering with chronic pain and conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, fibromyalgia etc who could benefit from this medicine will be left to suffer on or criminalised for using a medicine that alleviates their suffering by which remains illegal “