By Emily Ledger
As the Coronavirus began to seriously impact on normal life earlier this year, many people around the world were beginning to feel the negative effects of lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions on travel. However, for medical cannabis patients in Ireland, there was a silver lining – a temporary delivery service to cut out the need to travel abroad for their medication.
Prior to the introduction of this delivery service, patients had to travel to the Netherlands in order to fill their prescriptions. While the Netherlands has one of the most established medical cannabis sectors in the world, the country forbids the commercial export of cannabis products.
Nevertheless, patients from other EU member states have been free to fill their prescriptions within the country. That is until the Coronavirus pandemic introduced the need for serious travel restrictions both internationally and domestically.
Following the announcement of Coronavirus restrictions, the Irish government introduced a temporary pathway to allow medical cannabis patients to access their medication throughout lockdown. However, due to the success and resounding positive feedback from patients, the Irish Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, has announced that the scheme will now be permanent.
The welfare of patients and their families comes first and I am happy to reassure them that they will no longer have to personally source their prescriptions.
In a press release, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly continued: “Many patients and their families have shared stories with both me and officials in my department about how this initiative has made a huge improvement to their lives.
“They spoke about the stress of having to travel regularly and the associated health risks with that, as well as their concerns that they would run out of their medication.”
In order to receive a medical cannabis prescription in the Republic of Ireland, patients must apply to the Home Office with an endorsement from a specialist consultant. However, the Minister of Health does not play an actual role in the decision process.
“There will no longer be a need for [patients] to travel abroad in order to collect their prescribed cannabis products. Instead, they can focus on their health and wellbeing.”
The Department of Health will now begin plans to implement the delivery service as a permanent measure with the aim to enable easier access to medical cannabis.