The report highlighted the lack of scientific data demonstrating the efficacy and safety of cannabis-based products in general and it highlighted that most products are not capable of being licensed as medications for these reasons. It said that the safety, quality and effectiveness of cannabis-based products could not be assured to the same extent that would be expected for an authorised medicine.
However, the report also recognised the strong public interest in the issue and found that access to cannabis-based products may be of benefit to individual patients – including those with severe forms of epilepsy. It concluded that permitting access to cannabis-based products for medical use should recognise patient need, but remain evidence-based.
Key recommendations in the report included:
- The circumstances in which cannabis-based products could be prescribed. These circumstances included for patients with severe refractory epilepsy under the supervision of a consultant where established treatments have not been effective.
- The need to differentiate between medical and recreational uses of cannabis; to differentiate between different cannabis-based products; and to opt for authorised medications if and when possible.
- The need for public education and information on cannabis-based products and the access pathways that can be followed.
- The need to support and train relevant healthcare professionals, and the need for professional guidelines for prescribers.
- The need to gather data on usage, side effects and outcomes; and the need for greater clinical research in the field.
This report laid the foundation for the development of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme.
The report can be found in full here or downloaded at the end of this page.
You can read more here about Epilepsy Ireland's reaction to the publication of the review in February 2017.