The legal use of medicinal cannabis is to be introduced in Ireland early next year.

The Department of Health is bringing legislation forward for medicinal use says the Irish Independent.

This is following applications from drug manufacturers who wish to sell cannabis-based medicines in the country.

Currently, Irish law, under the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act, prohibits the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession  of cannabis or cannabis-based medicinal products for any reason except for the purposes of research.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health stressed that if legislation is passed it would only apply for medicinal use and not recreations use of the drug.

The drug company that is seeking permission to sell a product "for the relief of symptoms of spasticity for people with multiple sclerosis."

Spasticity refers to an unusual tightness or stiffness of muscles that can interfere with movement and speech.

The department spokesperson said: "Clinical trials in Ireland relating to this cannabis-based product will not be required.

"Department officials have been engaging with experts on how best to legally describe authorised cannabis-based medicinal products while maintaining existing controls on cannabis and cannabis substances to enable such authorised medicinal products to be prescribed in Ireland.

"While it is not possible to set out an exact timeframe, it is hoped to bring forward legislative proposals in early 2013."