Pubdate: Thu, 15 Aug 2013 Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland) Copyright: 2013 The Irish Times Contact: http://www.irishtimes.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/214 Author: Kitty Holland Page: 1 GPS TO BE ALLOWED PRESCRIBE MEDICINAL CANNABIS Doctors will be allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis under regulations likely to be introduced this year. It is also to become an offence to possess certain prescription drugs without authorisation. This is in an effort to address the spiralling problem of open dealing in benzodiazepines and other tranquilliser drugs. Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White has issued consultation documents on his plans and is seeking submissions by the end of the month. However, the proposals are likely to be welcomed by interested parties who have been seeking such changes for a number of years. They would also bring Ireland into line with other EU states and into compliance with obligations under a number of UN resolutions. According to explanatory notes, Mr White said he planned to "amend the regulations to allow a newly authorised medicinal product containing cannabis extract to be prescribed, supplied and used by patients. The product Sativex (nabiximols) has been authorised in other EU member states for the relief of symptoms of spasticity in multiple sclerosis". He also plans to strengthen controls on the import, export and possession of benzodiazepines and "z" drugs. Both benzodiazepines and z drugs act as tranquillisers. So-called benzos include Diazepam, Ativan and Temazepam, while the z drugs include Zaleplon, Zolpidem and Zopiclone. Dealers typically obtain these drugs over the internet. The dealing of these drugs in urban centres is now acknowledged as a serious problem.