THE DEPARTMENT OF Health has indicated it is to consider adopting certain portions of European agreements that would see Ireland allow people to bring medicinal marijuana into the country if they were prescribed it.
Briefing notes for new ministers James Reilly and Frances Fitzgerald, released by the Department of Health last week and documented in today’s Irish Times, have indicated that Ireland could adopt certain parts of the Schengen Agreement, the accord that removes internal borders within most EU states.
Ireland and the UK are not parties to the agreement, but the briefing notes says the Department of Health had been told by the Department of Justice and Law Reform that it should take whatever measures were necessary to give effects to a certain article of the agreement.
That provision, Article 75, allows persons “travelling within the EU to carry their legally prescribed narcotic or psychotropic drugs for medical use” – a move that would see persons given prescribed medicinal marijuana elsewhere in the EU being allowed to bring it into Ireland.
The document notes, however, that implementing the Article would require Ireland to put in place some kind of legal mechanism which still retained the current prohibition on importing cannabis, while permitting EU travellers to bring their own prescribed drugs with them.
The Department says it would examine making such arrangements later in the year.
The development follows the high-profile case of Noel McCullagh, who was told by the European Ombudsman that he enjoyed no legal right to bring his prescribed medication into Ireland from the Netherlands, given its cannabis content.
McCullagh, an Irish citizen, has multiple sclerosis and is prescribed a drug called Bedrocan which contains marijuana and which is available across the continent. He had been trying to seek a guarantee that he would not be arrested for bringing his medication with him if he was to visit his family in Galway.