Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jul 2013
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2013 The Irish Times
Author: Pamela Duncan
Page: 4


The Government is preparing regulations that would legalise
cannabis-based medicinal products in limited circumstances, Minister
of State at the Department of Health Alex White has said.

The Government is at "an advanced stage in preparing regulations to
allow for a very limited availability of cannabis for medical
purposes", he said, adding its use would be restricted to a mouth spray.

"We have consulted widely with expert opinion and we have come to the
conclusion that there is a case for limited availability," he said,
adding the Irish Medicines Board has received a market authorisation
application from a pharmaceutical company for Sativex, a
cannabis-based mouth spray. The board has recommended the approval of
the product for the Irish market.

"MS [ multiple sclerosis] in particular is one of the prominent
conditions in respect of which the availability of Sativex could be
beneficial," Mr White said. Public consultation "I would hope in the
coming months to be in a position to introduce those regulations," he
said, adding that there would be public consultation.

Mr White made his comments at the publication of a report by the
National Advisory Committee on Drugs on cannabis prevalence in
Ireland, which found two-thirds of those surveyed agreed its use
should be permitted for medical reasons.

It says the percentage of people aged 15-64 who had ever used cannabis
grew to just over a quarter of the population i n the last survey,
conducted between October 2010 and June 2011. This compared with 22
per cent who said in the 2006/07 survey they had used the drug at some

The percentage of people who had used cannabis in their lifetime was
highest among professionals, senior management and top civil servants,
35.1 per cent of whom had done so.

That group was also most likely to have used the drug in the past year
with just under 10 per cent having done so, followed by people who
were "dependent on the State long-term" at 8 per cent.

The highest incidence of current use was among those dependent on the
State long-term, 5.2 per cent of whom said they had used cannabis
within the past month.

There has been a marked change in the type of cannabis used here. The
use of weed jumped from just 8.4 per cent of cannabis used in 2007 to
46.5 per cent in 2011.
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MAP posted-by: Matt