The Department of Health confirmed to TheJournal.ie that a licence for the importation of “specified cannabis containing products” has been granted.
The licence was granted to a commercial enterprise in January 2019.
It is understood Health Minister Simon Harris will bring proposals about the cannabis access programme to Cabinet next month.
It’s over two years since the minister announced that a medicinal cannabis access programme was to be established, but since then no scheme has been rolled out.
The delay has been blamed on the government running into problems finding a quality assured supplier of cannabis and a supplier that can export its products to Ireland.
It is understood that the medicinal cannabis product for Irish import has been sourced in Denmark. Last year, a team of officials travelled to the country to assess the operations of access schemes abroad.
The department has also confirmed that officials are working intensively on finalising the legislation required to underpin the cannabis access programme.
It is believed the legislation could be ready in mid-April.
In a statement, the health department said it is currently “seeking solutions to the supply of appropriate products for Irish patients. Officials have been in regular contact with our counterparts in Denmark, UK, Canada and further afield”.
The access programme aims to allow access to cannabis-based therapies for the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis, those experiencing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and those with severe, refractory and treatment-resistant epilepsy.
The establishment of the scheme follows on from recommendations from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
Following the report, Department of Health officials said they had been working intensively on the issue to ensure a supply of appropriate medical cannabis products from other EU Member States and further afield to meet the needs of Irish patients.
Until medicinal cannabis is permitted to be imported to Ireland and until the access programme is up and running, Irish doctors are operating under the current ministerial licencing route, which allows them to prescribe medical cannabis for their patients.
As of late last year, licences have been granted for twelve individual patients, the majority of whom are obtaining their medical cannabis from a Dutch pharmacy on foot of their medical prescription.
As the delays dragged on, questions mounted on the government about the hold-up.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Dáil last year that his party had been “extremely patient” about the delays, stating that patients, such as Vera Twomey, have to travel overseas to Europe every three months to secure the medicinal cannabis which has been identified by their specialists and GPs.
People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny has repeatedly raised the issue, pushing his Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill.