Cannabis for Medicinal use Bill addresses health matters of utmost importance - Jonathan O'Brien TD
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice and Drugs Jonathan O'Brien TD has tonight outlined the party's support for passage of the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 to Committee Stage, where it will table appropriate amendments.
The Cork North Central TD strongly emphasised that the issues addressed by the Bill where matters of health and that he welcomed the Bill as "important initiative in the development of healthcare in Ireland."
Speaking in the Dáil this evening this evening, Deputy O'Brien said;
"We need to be clear that this is a health matter.
"Research has indicated that introducing medicinal cannabis legally does not have any crime exacerbating effect. The research findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalisation of cannabis products for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.
"It is Sinn Fein’s view that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
"In the past, myself and other Sinn Fein TDs called for Sativex spray and CBD oil to made available to persons suffering with conditions such as MS and Dravet’s Syndrome.
"We need to move towards an evidence-based model of depenalisation of drugs founded on international best practice, so that vulnerable drug users can access the supports they need, but also that persons who have specific medical conditions can access cannabis based medicines when they need them.
"It is bad enough to witness the pain of a loved one with a chronic debilitating illness where there is no prospect of recovery, but simply the vista of watching their condition slowly deteriorate until death – but to have to try and ease their pain under the threat of prosecution for providing them with a product that might ease their suffering is another thing altogether.
"Some parents are placed in a terrible position when their children have severe illnesses and conditions and they know that cannabis based products would ease their suffering, and yet they cannot access them, or if they access them, they are breaking the law to do so. That is not right.
"While we disagree with the mechanism that the People Before Profit Deputies envisage for the regulation of these medicines, we will support this Bill to proceed to Committee Stage where we will table appropriate amendments. It is our view that these products should be regulated by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (which has taken over from the Irish Medicines Board) like any other medicine that exists.
"However, the important thing is that whatever structure in place, there must be meaningful access to it. It must not be introduced and then effectively banned through a series of insurmountable bureaucratic hurdles.
"It is an important initiative in the development of healthcare in Ireland and I welcome the opportunity to vote in favour of the Bill."