TD calls for Simon Harris’ resignation over failure to legislate for access to medicinal cannabis
Gino Kenny TD to meet mother Noreen O’Neill who is returning from Barcelona with medicinal cannabis for son
People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to resign his position over his failure, despite many promises, to provide cannabis for medicinal use to alleviate pain and suffering in patients for whom other treatments have failed.
Deputy Kenny will travel to Dublin airport today to meet Noreen O’Neill who will arrive back in Dublin after a visit to a clinic in Barcelona, where her son Michael had been prescribed medicinal cannabis to treat his intractable epilepsy. She will arrive at Dublin Airport at 12.15pm this afternoon.
Pharmaceutical drugs had failed to have any impact on Michael’s condition and Noreen felt she had no other option but to travel abroad from her home in Cork to access the treatment that is currently unavailable in Ireland.
Deputy Kenny introduced the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill in 2016 but despite securing an overwhelming Dáil vote in favour of moving it to the Committee Stage of the legislative process, the Government have stalled its progress and instead proposed the introduction of a restrictive Cannabis Access Programme. While an extremely small number of licences have been granted to people whose medical consultants have endorsed cannabis as a treatment, the vast majority of people continue to be unable to access cannabis to treat their symptoms.
Deputy Kenny said: “It is utterly shameful and inhumane that Noreen O’Neill and her son had to effectively become medical exiles to get the medicine that has already helped Michael hugely in treating his illness. Sadly, this situation is becoming a weekly occurrence as more and more people travel outside of Ireland to get the help that my Bill seeks to deliver to them at home. What Noreen had to do is what any parent would do for their child. The concept of a parent having to leave the country to obtain access to medicinal cannabis is a terrible indictment of this Government’s lack of action on medical and legal access to cannabis in Ireland.
“It is really difficult to understand why we in Ireland are falling so badly behind other EU countries and in fact, countries all around the world that have legislated for the use of medicinal cannabis in a mature and progressive way. In granting a limited number of licences, the Government have already accepted the medical benefits of cannabis. I’m at a loss to understand why they won’t go a step further and use my legislation to widen access to it. The present licencing system which requires a recommendation from a consultant is way too cumbersome, restrictive and not fit for purpose.
“It really is time for the Minister for Health to resign as he has effectively abandoned so many people who are desperate to use medicinal cannabis to alleviate their pain and suffering.”