A programme to allow patients with specific conditions access to medicinal cannabis could be in place by autumn, the Oireachtas health committee has been told.
The committee heard on Tuesday that the Department of Health was looking at setting up the access programme using statutory instruments rather than primary legislation. The department estimated that this would take six months.
Department of Health principal officer Eugene Lennon told the committee the current situation in relation to access to medicinal cannabis was “not ideal”.
He said setting up the proposed programme through legislation would take 18 months.
As the hearing took place, Cork mother Vera Twomey completed her walk to Dublin in support of access to cannabis-based medicine for her seven-year-old daughter Ava, who has a severe form of epilepsy.
Ms Twomey, who finished the 260km journey in a wheelchair after suffering a knee injury, was met by several hundred supporters outside the Dáil.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has recommended access to medicinal cannabis under a monitored five-year programme for sufferers of severe epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.