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'It's time we got on with it': Support for medicinal cannabis bill could mean it's a runner

The bill, which is due to be debated on this Thursday, aims to regulate use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Image: Shutterstock/OpenRangeStock

A NUMBER OF TDS are pledging their support for the medicinal cannabis bill which is due to be debated in the Dail this Thursday.

Independent Alliance TD Kevin Boxer Moran told TheJournal.ie that he will be voting in favour of the bill, which aims to regulate the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Members of the Independent Alliance are to get a free vote on the issue, while Fine Gael are opposing it.

No collective Cabinet decision on the issue was reached during today’s meeting which lasted over an hour and three-quarters.

However, if members of the Independent Alliance vote against their government partners, and if Fianna Fáil vote in favour of the bill, there is a possibility of getting the legislation through to the next stage.

Pressure has been mounting on politicians to address the issue after Vera Twomey, a parent of an epilepsy sufferer highlighted that medical cannabinoids had dramatically decreased the number of seizures her child experienced.

Support for the bill 

Boxer Moran told TheJournal.ie that a number of the Independent Alliance members are likely to support the bill.

Junior Minister Finian McGrath stated in an interview with HotPress magazine this year that he supports legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, while Minister of State for Trade and Skills John Halligan said: “I am not against decriminalising cannabis.”

A spokesperson for the group said its members were simply “exercising their right to a free vote” on the issue due to the fact that it is not contained in the programme for government.

“They will listen to the debate closely and decide how to vote next week,” she said, adding that the party did not “seek” a free vote.

Boxer Moran said today the party’s TDs “insisted” on a free vote.

He said that Fine Gael’s position to oppose the bill, which was put forward by People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, was “their problem, not ours”.

“You have to look at it from this point of view. If you have a loved one, young or old, you want them to have what helps them. That goes without saying,” he said.

“I hope it goes through. It has been a long time talking about it now, it is time we got on with it,” he added.

‘Delighted’

He said it was difficult to hear Vera Twomey, a parent of an epilepsy sufferer, tell her story and not get emotional. Calling her story very sad, he said: “I am delighted to vote for it. I hope it helps make it happen.”

We can’t keep pushing the can down the road, we were elected to make decisions, and this is an easy decision to make.

It’s understood that Fianna Fáil might support the bill, which would make the passing of the bill to the next stage a real possibility (and would mean another defeat for Fine Gael).

In July, the party’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said:

The misuse of drugs regulations were amended two years ago to allow for certain cannabis based medicinal products to be used in Ireland. Following this, the Health Products Regulatory Authority granted a marketing authorisation for a cannabis based medicinal product which relieves certain symptoms for MS sufferers.
If this path was followed then we would have no difficulty with cannabis based medicines being prescribed to alleviate suffering.

Health Minister Simon Harris is understood to have some serious concerns about the bill in its current state.

Boxer Moran said he also has concerns about certain aspects of the legislation, but said changes to the bill can be made at a later stage.

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