As a medical marijuana bill finally makes its way through the Irish Dáil (lower House of Parliament) after a year of delays, the first medical license in Ireland to treat chronic pain with whole plant cannabis has been issued.
On Nov. 17, Ireland’s Department of Health granted a three-month license for THC to an unnamed patient. The recipient of the medicine suffers from severe chronic pain and medical professionals in Ireland are calling the prescription an “important development.”
It is the second time in Ireland’s history that someone has obtained permission for medical cannabis containing THC. The first license came in December of last year when 3-year-old Tristan Forde obtained access to treat a severe form of epilepsy.
Medical cannabis in Ireland is currently illegal, however, a patient’s consultant can apply to the Minister of Health on a case-by-case basis in extreme circumstances.
“It is the first time that the Department of Health has recognized that THC can be used for the treatment of chronic pain,” said William McLoughlin, the national secretary of chronic pain Ireland (CPI).
Health Minister Simon Harris announced in February that cannabis products could be made available to some patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and the side effects of chemotherapy.
Chronic pain was not included in the original plan, so CPI applied for the patient on their behalf. This move is significant because it has been reported that 20 percent of Ireland’s population suffers from chronic pain.
At the time CPI applied for the medicine, there were no formal application guidelines for chronic pain, so McLoughlin created one. The application included the method of delivery for the medicine, which was vaping or in tea, and the dosage the patient would be allowed.
“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,” said David Finn, the co-director of the Centre for Pain Research at NUI Galway University. “Chronic pain is the most researched indication for cannabinoids, and the majority of clinical studies conclude that cannabis or cannabinoids can be effective in alleviating certain types of chronic pain.”
The medical marijuana bill in the Dáil is headed for its third stage of debate and will be presented to Ireland’s Health Committee early next year.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett