Call to action: Better access to medical marijuana in pharmacies

The number of patients and caregivers with medical marijuana in Ireland are being affected by delays in accessing it a new report from the Medical Organisation for Medical Cannabis Ireland (MoM) has revealed.

It also found that the amount of time it takes to receive a recommended dose of 20-30mg of an entire cannabis concentrate or a single quarter of a gram of concentrate for a patient to successfully complete the recommended eight doses of a certain drug such as PCPH-CB for which there is a prescription. The report pointed to the fact that despite a drug being available in Ireland for four years only around 2000 patients and traces of half a million caregivers have used it.

Speaking to the media following the launch of the report MoM general secretary Peter Fitzpatrick insisted that it is unacceptable and discriminatory that cannabis is being made available to Irish patients when it should be available on a medication-by-drug basis. We are calling on the HIQA to take urgent action to ensure that cannabis is available for Irish patients on the prescribed (dose) and on a medication-by-drug basis as soon as possible to ensure that the need for this medicine is being met he stated.

MoM pointed out that in 2016 a report was published by the HIQA assessing the treatment needs of medical and recreational users of cannabis. It found that 82 of adult medicinal users in Ireland already take part in some form of organized drug-free smoking cessation activities. However just 13 of other adults who use cannabis recreationally intend to quit using the drug.

Meanwhile it also noted that more than one-third of caregivers on prescription drugs who also smoke conventional cigarettes say that they feel underutilized compared to just two in every million who who use the drug on a recreational basis.

Meanwhile although the MoM report does not identify the reason why cannabis is being diverted to medicinal use it notes that in Ireland 18 of recommended daily doses of cannabis were diverted to medicinal use while in Portugal 23 of recommended daily doses of cannabis were diverted for that purpose.

According to several other experts the MoM report is an illustration of the stark disparity between policy approaches in Ireland and Portugal with medicines being diverted for medicinal use often for the very same reasons. The moral and ethical imperative is to immediately begin to address this disparity by enacting the drive that these expenditures for medical use begin to be commented MoM chief executive Sarah OConnor. She noted that reported benefits for medicinal use in Portugal in one trial were 4. 6 million while recent studies in the UK and the USA have found 10 to 12 million in medicinal benefit.

The new report found that approximately 3. 7 million was spent on administering medical pot via pharmacies in Ireland in 2015 alone. This figure represents a 12 increase from the 2. 8 billion spent in 2004 on medicinal uses of medicinal cannabis but it also represents a 15 decline in average daily expenditure.

Ms OConnor insisted that this is an indicator of the large sums of money that are being spent on the provision of medical cannabis to people on prescription drugs of which around 1 billion is already in the bank. The real biggest challenge is that theres an incentive for doctors not to prescribe cannabis to patients on prescribed drugs because of threats of such a charge. But if we stop prescribing cannabis theyll just be diverted to other forms of medicine and those other drugs will have the same medical use status as prescribed she added.