MEP Luke Ming Flanagan has said the Minister for Health, Simon Harris could not be more mean spirited.
Mr Flanagan said; "In days gone by those who could afford to, could buy forgiveness. If you had the cash you could buy your way out of sin. A plenary indulgence, bought from the church, guaranteed that the right men were saying prayers on behalf of your soul. Now it appears that one will need to pay experts to present your case to the HSE to gain medicinal cannabis.
"They grandly named 'compassionate access programme for cannabis-based treatments' smacks of plenary indulgences all over again. From what has been outlined by the minister it seems that those in need will have to hire expensive consultants to make their application; all this is to gain access to a natural herb which is a cousin of the common nettle. And that it is for those who are lucky enough to fall into a very limited range of ailments. These who suffer from Parkinson’s disease or from chronic pain will find no sympathy from Ireland’s apparent progress.
"What about those in our community who suffer from arthritis? The Minister states 'I believe this report marks a significant milestone in developing policy in this area.' These are baby steps.
"What you claim as a significant milestone is a millstone around the necks of those who are left out of the HPRS’s very narrow list. The report states that 'the scientific evidence for medicinal cannabis is insufficient' and 'at times conflicting'.
"There is plenty of evidence out there that cannabis works for those with conditions such as chronic pain. Just go and ask the thousands of Irish people who use cannabis on a regular basis to relieve pain. This ‘significant milestone’ will leave those people as criminals. They will be forced to continue to source cannabis by illegal means. They will be supporting a criminal underworld. And no doubt some will end up with criminal sentences because of this very restrictive approach.
"While the rest of the world is rapidly decriminalizing cannabis and leaving people to make up their own minds about what is good for them, Ireland is taking the smallest possible steps to placate the public. No doubt even these tiny steps would not have come about but for the efforts of campaigners and parents who have pushed this issue to the point where the Minister could no longer ignore the facts.
"Our Minister for Health is like the God of the Old Testament - mean."