The Democratic Alliance’s disdain for cannabis is nothing new. Taking every opportunity to avoid any sensible discussion on the topic of legalisation and kicking the medical marijuana bucket down the road have been long favoured tactics. Until now that is.
In what appears to be the DA’s first real stance on the matter, MP Wilmot James explained the political party’s unexpected shift in a sentimental article which highlighted the crucial role that the late Mario Ambrosini had played in bringing the urgent need for cannabis based medicines to parliament and the president’s attention. Although James made it clear that he does not agree with the means by which Ambrosini sought to achieve these goals “Much as I admired Mario’s cause, the vehicle he chose to advance it, the Medical Innovation Private Members’ Bill, is an unnecessarily complex and cumbersome route to get us there. There is no need for new legislation.”
Citing the existing legal avenues that have so far been unmoving in the denial of permitting any form of medical cannabis in the country, James may well have an inside scoop on what’s to come. “As for the Medical Innovation Bill, it should be withdrawn and replaced by an effort to produce, register and schedule a cannabinoid drug as a prescription drug for well-defined clinical indications.
In the next few months, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will be calling on Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to encourage pharmaceutical companies to bring a suitable cannabinoid-derived drug to the MCC for approval and registration.”
In order for this to meet the DA’s exacting standards there will need to be some terms and conditions:
1. Comes in an ingestible form, ie as an oil or a pill to be swallowed rather than smoked, smoking being potentially carcinogenic;
2. Consists of compounds that can be biochemically standardised; and
3. Is registered as a medicine based on clinical trials or a dossier that complies with strict regulatory requirements and MCC approval.
It will be interesting to see if or how the Inkatha Freedom party will defend the MIB as it has become a notable feather in the party’s cap. What is perhaps even more interesting is that the DA has waited for the National Election dust to first settle before making a move on this popular issue that got not so much as a mention during months of campaigning. Begging the question on whether the leadership of the party is truly committed to making any changes that don’t involve the large investments and chunky donations that would undoubtedly go along with getting into bed with Big Pharma.
An anonymous source who was a close friend to Ambrosini at the time of introducing the MIB to parliament and his eventual passing away was distraught about the news of James betraying the wishes of a dying man who’s legacy he’d promised to protect. “He promised Mario on his death bed that he would not corporatise the bill.”
The DA is clearly waking up to the prospect of a local legal medical cannabis industry. One can however only wonder what their motivations are.