MINISTER FOR Health Mary Harney has said she is open to making cannabis legal for medicinal purposes.
Ms Harney has sought legal advice on the effectiveness of the drug for the treatment of such conditions as multiple sclerosis and certain forms of cancer.
In a statement, the Department of Health and Children said it would make contact with relevant experts in the field with a view to making a recommendation to the Minister before the end of the year.
Ms Harney said in a parliamentary question last year that she did not propose a change in the law that would allow cannabis be used for medicinal purposes.
The department stressed there was “no question” of the Minister legalising cannabis itself.
Medicinal cannabis campaigner Gordon McArdle met with Minister for Community Affairs Pat Carey yesterday evening to discuss the issue.
Mr Carey has overall responsibility for the Government’s drugs strategy, but a spokeswoman for the Minister said he was meeting Mr McArdle because he was a constituent. Mr McArdle said he was “pleasantly surprised” at how open Ministers were to the idea of changing the law.
Mr McArdle maintains that the legalisation of medicinal cannabis would bring Ireland into line with the UK, Canada, Italy, Spain, Israel and 14 US states.
He said there ought to be a EU-wide approach to the problem, and a common strategy, and said he was not advocating the legalisation of cannabis in general, as that was a separate issue.
A Facebook page to have cannabis legalised as a medicinal drug has more than 4,000 supporters.
By RONAN McGREEVY