Medical cannabis just got another big win, and this time with a country much closer to home at the centre of the latest worldwide development.
The government in Ireland has not opposed a proposed private members bill for medical cannabis.
After passing without opposition, it will now move to committee stage for further discussions and amendments.
This process occurs with most bills before they go to the Dáil and Seanad for final votes of approval. The final step is when President Michael D. Higgins signs any such bill into law.
The bill for medical cannabis seeks to legalise and regulate cannabis products for those suffering serious illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, as well as people who live with chronic pain.
Health minister Simon Harris said regulators will advise him on the scientific and clinical value of cannabis as a medicine, stating:
“Changes would need to be made to the legislation to avoid accidentally making the drug legal for recreational use”
We need a bill of this kind discussed in parliament in the UK asap. While the common belief may be that we cannot easily achieve our aims while Brexit is on the table, perhaps the same distraction that has seen the new snoopers charter ushered through with little opposition here could see cannabis laws changed in favour of the many patients already using cannabis as their medicine.
There are also lots of important implications of a medical cannabis programme in Ireland that the UK Government will need to think about and address. What about Northern Irish people crossing over for their medicine? What about the ease of access to the UK?
It looks like the potential issues above could be solved by adopting a more sensible cannabis policy over here. But first, we need to get MPs talking about it in Parliament with a bill of our own.
2017 could be a big year!