Government offer spurious reasons for blocking Medicinal Cannabis Bill

Gino Kenny TD says: “I put forward solutions over three years ago and they completely ignored them”

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said he received a letter today from the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, outlining the reasons why the Dublin Mid-West TD’s Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 failed to progress further in the legislative process.

The letter contained a ‘reasoned response’ to Deputy Kenny’s Bill, which sought to provide for GPs to prescribe medicinal cannabis for people with a wide range of illnesses.

The response said that the Minister was unable to recommend to Government that it issue a money message in respect of the proposed legislation because the Bill carried potentially significant financial implications in providing for the establishment of two new State agencies.

Deputy Kenny said: “I find it astonishing that it has taken over three years to put on record the reason for blocking the passage of my Bill, which gained overwhelming support on the floor of the Dáil and underwent detailed pre-legislative scrutiny.

“I repeatedly offered to remove the sections of the Bill that the Government had an issue with and even suggested ways in which their concerns could be circumvented. However, they never responded. Other parties that had similar concerns were happy with my proposed amendments and subsequently offered their support to the legislation.

“It is very difficult not to be cynical about their motives for blocking the Bill given that solutions were eminently possible. While I welcome the Government’s recently established Medical Cannabis Access Programme, as I have repeatedly said it is way too restrictive. I believe my Bill was ultimately blocked because it offered significantly more access to medicinal cannabis than the Government wanted, and they used these spurious reasons to stop its progression. By restricting access, they have omitted many people who could benefit from the use of medicinal cannabis and forced many to seek it abroad, or worse, risk criminalisation by obtaining it on the black market.

“It interestingly throws up a second very topical issue in the use of the “money message” to block opposition Bills. People Before Profit very recently used its Private Member’s Time to try to change the standing orders which have seen the repeated use of this parliamentary device to sabotage Bills introduced by the opposition.

“This matter is currently before the High Court for judicial review. People Before Profit has acted in the interest of democracy to call a halt to the Government’s over use of this protocol to obstruct often very progressive legislation in the most undemocratic way. My Bill and over 50 others have stalled as a result of the Government’s underhanded behaviour.”

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