Ireland must step into 21st century and pass Cannabis Bill

People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, held a press conference in Dublin city centre today on his Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill 2016.

Deputy Kenny was joined at the press conference by Conor Reddy from Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Mick Barry TD, Richard Boyd Barrett TD and Bríd Smith TD who co-sponsored the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill.

Gino Kenny said, “It is crucial that the Dáil supports my bill to make cannabis for medicinal purposes available for the people that need it.

“The mounting evidence for the Medicinal benefits of Cannabis based medicines, for use in conditions such as Cancer, Epilepsy, MS and Chronic pain, has shown that patients get significant relief from suffering such as distressing nausea,  poor appetite,  muscle spasms and  pain. Patients benefit also from reductions in the use of other prescription drugs with more severe side effects and addiction risks such as Opioid painkillers and Benzodiazepine sedatives. This has also reduced the number of fatal overdoses of these and other alternative prescription drugs. Cannabis has no association with fatal overdose and no deaths internationally have been linked to its use, giving it an enormous therapeutic advantage.

“In the light of these emerging facts on the ground drug policies are changing rapidly internationally and the compassionate access approach to cannabis based medicines is now the most minimal legislative change many countries in the EU and the United States are introducing to ensure at least that sick children and people suffering long term pain and distress are able to access safe supplies of quality controlled Cannabis based medicines with legal protection against prosecution for purchase or possession. The growing realisation that existing policies and legislation are failing and compassionate access is succeeding means that a review of our attitude to Cannabis as a medicine is long overdue.

Bríd Smith said that it was time for Ireland and the Dáíl to take a step into the 21st century and vote for this Bill. She pointed out that cannabis needs to be dealt with in a health centred approach and not under criminal justice which is an out dated failed policy.

Deputy Smith also pointed out that the passing of this Bill which would provide legal protection to a secure quality supply of high grade medicinal cannabis for people who need it was a no brainer.

“There are tens of thousands of people in this country who suffer from illnesses that could benefit massively from the passing of this legislation. We are calling for all parties in the Dáil to vote to allow this Bill to the next stage. The Dáil and the conservative parties cannot hold up progress any longer. There are many people who are suffering who desperately need this medicine to be made available.”

Mick Barry TD said “I hope this Bill can open the door to medicine and pain relief for tens of thousands of suffering people. Medicinal cannabis can help people who suffer from vomiting as a side-effect of chemotherapy; MS patients who suffer from muscle spasms and many others suffering from chronic pain and anxiety.

“Successive governments have unfortunately preferred to strike a populist anti-drugs pose rather than allow medicine and comfort for thousands of suffering people.  Thankfully, it would now appear that a sea-change in popular attitudes and the brave, campaigning approach of a Cork mother, Vera Twomey, are on the verge of dragging the current government into facing some kind of reality on this issue.”

Conor Reddy said “People who need Medicinal cannabis have been one of many casualties in the failed, so-called War on Drugs, waged primarily for political rather than health reasons since the 1970s. For decades, this chill factor has precluded largescale research into cannabis’ potential as a medicine and of course also its potential for harm. Thankfully, in the last number of years, the tide has turned somewhat, allowing more solid research and more importantly, allowing millions of patients to benefit from cannabis based treatments. Cannabis is especially promising as a safer alternative to more dangerous and addictive, prescription drugs like benzodiazepines and opiate pain killers. We welcome this bill with great enthusiasm and hope that it marks the start of a broader conversation on drug policy and the benefits to society of a health centred approach.”