Ireland: Medical Cannabis Prescriptions Will Now be Paid Directly by Government

Irish medical marijuana patients won’t have to pay upfront for their medicine
21 July 2021
1 min read
Ireland: Medical Cannabis Prescriptions Will Now be Paid Directly by Government

The medical marijuana program which was launched in Ireland in April last year has just received a major overhaul. The Department of Health will now cover the cost of prescriptions through direct payments to the supplier of cannabis and cannabis-related products.

Irish Medical Cannabis Program is Coming of Age

Until now the patients in Ireland who were eligible for the medical marijuana program had to overcome serious hurdles to get access to their treatment. Before the pandemic, they or their family members had to personally travel to the Netherlands and buy their medicine in the Transvaal Apotheek pharmacy.

Due to Covid-19 travel restriction, the patients were given the opportunity to have their prescriptions delivered to the door, but they still needed to pay upfront—sometimes as much as thousands of euros per month—and then apply for reimbursement.

This inefficient system was a subject to much criticism, and the government devised a new plan to directly pay the Dutch pharmacy for the cannabis it supplies.

Ireland’s Minister of Health, Stephen Donnelly, welcomed the change, saying he was delighted that Ireland’s Health Services and the pharmacy agreed to implement a new process which would “give peace of mind to the seventeen patients and their families” who until now had been using the refund process.

The Ministry also assures that the current arrangement of doorstep delivery will remain in place post-pandemic.

Very Few Patients Could Join the Program

With new regulations in place, Ireland now has what appears to be a much better system than in many European countries or the UK. Yet the very small number of patients enjoying this program indicates that it has some serious issues.

There are only 17 patients who hold prescriptions for medical marijuana in the country and only three eligible conditions: MS-associated spasticity, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and intractable epilepsy resistant to traditional treatments.

21 July 2021