Medical Marijuana November 24, 2016

Government Just Approved Medical Marijuana In South Africa

It’s been three years since the medical Innovation Bill was submitted to Parliament by the late Mario Ambrosini. Yesterday saw Parliament’s Portfolio Committee of Health, who is in charge of this bill, finally make an announcement about what has been the most contentious aspect of it, medical cannabis. Government will soon regulate medical cannabis for prescribed health conditions.

To say that the Medical Innovation Bill has seen its fair share of ups and downs would be an understatement. I had the good fortune of seeing and commenting on it before it was presented to parliament. The humble couple of pages that it was inspired hope for change in South Africa’s medical cannabis policy. It was by no means a Hail Mary and caused much bickering and conflicts as soon as it became public. But this was always going to happen, as the Bill in itself was far too brief and ambiguous to put everyone’s mind at ease. But that’s where the point was probably lost on many. This was, simply put, the efforts of a dying man to get the ball rolling.

Speaking after the announcement by the Medicines Control Council and the Department of Health in Parliament today, Mr Singh of the IFP said, “This heralds a great step forward for public access and research into the use of medicinal cannabis. I feel a great sense of relief. I must thank the Department for taking up this issue with such passionate concern for our people. What matters now is that the Department ensures that access to medicinal cannabis will not be restricted to the rich, but that anyone who needs it will be able to afford it, and get it.”

The Department has indicated that the new regulatory framework could be available as early as the end of January 2017 for stakeholder comment, and could be implemented as soon as April 2017.

Singh added, “Today I saw MPs across the political spectrum join together for the common good of all South Africans. The introduction of Dr Oriani-Ambrosini’s Bill in 2014 galvanised a concerted effort by all stakeholders, the result being that we will shortly have a working blueprint and regulatory framework for access to medicinal cannabis in South Africa. We look forward to seeing that happen.”

Even the DA got in on the action “We welcome the progressive path that the Department has taken on this issue and urge the Minister of Health to sign-off on the new regulations so that the process can be opened up to public comment.

The faster this process can be undertaken, the quicker these products can be made available to those who need it. This will ultimately give patients and their health care provider’s greater choice in treating certain difficult conditions through the use of safe, medicinal cannabis.”

There was talk by the committee of moving cannabis from a Schedule 7 Substance classified as having no medical value to a Schedule 6 rating that will remain extremely restrictive on the research, production and distribution of the plant. This is something that prominent local activists, The Dagga Couple, were concerned about. “We monitored tweets from an ENCA reporter at a parliamentary hearing in Cape Town. There was talk of taking dagga out of schedule 7 and reducing it to schedule 6 to get round Section 21 medical growers license applications. This, of course, will have no bearing on the +/-1000 daily arrests for possession in SA.”

Come what may with all the T, H & C’s that will now be penned by official people in official places, it remains to be seen if medical cannabis in South Africa will be a product by the people for the people or if it will be Zupta’fied into some highly profitable industry that will only benefit a very select few or only the very sick.

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  • WhoisJohanGalt

    Consider this…

    The MCC who has issued the licenses to the cannabis research monopoly for the past 16 years, is going to be left alone over Xmas to come up with the rules and regulations without public participation.

    This will not be a fair and equitable access to cannabis.

    Furthermore how can the MCC justify changing the cannabis scheduling without a scientific review? Why should it be rescheduled and not completely removed?

    • Debbie Taylor

      Well I suppose its all new to our Government, so baby steps will do for now and they did mention about getting the “Blueprint” for medically approved strains and oils etc. etc. There is already enough proven research internationally for them to achieve this.
      This is the first time since the Hippie 60’s that the government is going to allow the use of cannabis in S.A, thus being said, since when was it ever a schedule 7 drug if it was illegal all this time? My other question is while they sorting out the blue print etc.etc, are we able to get growing permits so long to be able to help and supply by Jan 2017. It only 4 and 1/2 weeks away. And where or who can we contact for this?

      • Bernard

        Hi, Debbie, please let me know when you aquire insight as to where or who may be contacted in order to obtain a growing permit as I would also like to help with supply of medical cannabis.

  • Jurgen Els

    Im glad we are at least somewhat moving away from viewing cannabis as: “dirty street drugs” towards: ” medicine” HOWEVER I see some serious issues with this whole approach:

    1. Schedule 6 is reserved for dangerous medication with a high potential for abuse and addiction such as: Morphine, Methylphenidate, Hydrocodone etc… Cannabis obviously does not fit this criteria….So this whole approach is fundamentally flawed to begin with. Cannabis is physically safe and less addictive than coffee. The potential for abuse is low when using DSM-5 Criteria.

    2. This classification seems to suggest that you need to be chronically or terminally sick. What about people who choose to use cannabis for occasional problems such as infrequent migraines or IBS flareups?

    3. Who is going to profit? The Cannabis industry supplies thousands upon thousands of the poorest people with an income in South Africa. The old, the sick and the disabled are just some of those dependent on growing cannabis in order to survive. What will happen to these individuals once “High quality medicine” is being grown in pharmaceutical greenhouses? How will contracts be given and will the application to become a grower be transparent and fair?

    4. This approach sends the message that cannabis should be seen in the same way as morphine, pentazocine, phenobarbital etc. Doctors are very hesitant to prescribe S6 medicines and for very good reason, however Cannabis does not carry the same risk as these S6 substances and does not require the same conservative approach.

    I am elated that the terminally ill and the disabled might soon have safe access to their medicine, but do we need to be dying to use this plant?

    It unfortunately seems like they are simply moving the profits from one dodgy bunch(street dealers) to another potentially even dodgier bunch(Big Pharma)….This is herbal medicine, control it like you control lavender tea or clove oil!

    This scheduling will in a sense give the state even more control over the plant. They realize they are loosing control and want to ensure they get a firm grip on it before it happens.

    • WhoisJohanGalt

      How can the MCC just reschedule anything with a scientific review? And should that review not include removing cannabis from the scheduling completely?

    • Terry

      Brilliant writing.Spot on

  • Bobby Greenhash

    This is not legalization, is a sellout to Mr. Pharma. We knew it was gonna happen. Now, your charge sheet will read “Possession without a permit”
    Legal my arse, small guys getting shafted again, so we will continue our reign of civil disobedience towards Dagga legislation, we will continue to bend them over in the law courts.
    Nothing legal happening here.

    • ColletteSki Hall

      Totally agree Bobby….they can forget the criminilisation… demonisation and walk away and we will forgive and move on….. and not countersue for all the wrongs of the past 100 years and more…. on this issue alone…..

    • Muhammad

      Hi Bobby, I have been diagnosed with MS , can these products help

      • Nicole

        Yes it does

    • Apollo John Pampallis

      this is correct.the government and its cronies have been playing for time as they own the cannabis and drug market and negotiating to get best deal out of pharma

  • ralph Higgo

    For a report which had 20k+ shares I really expected to see more feedback and public participation here. 2017 is going to be an interesting year indeed.

  • Justin Seef

    Who would know how to go about getting a growing license. I have 4 hectares of land waiting to be cultivated

  • Terry

    What Constitutional rights are being violated by the use of Cannabis and or it’s derivatives viz: cannabis oil
    IF our Constitutional rights and that of the individual are violated by any law and are deemed to be illegal.
    This should be challenged in the Constitutional Court.
    What say you ???

  • Rona-Lee Johannsen

    Hi Bobby, I am a paraplegic due to a car accident, I went to Beijing for a stem cell operation, I understand that cannabis oil will help the new stem cells in my body to grow. Is that true?

    • Maarten Potgieter

      Look up plasma/gans. Some people are doing research by
      working with carbon, some hydrogen and even cannabis plasma. We made some
      health patches and we find them very effective. We heard some people are doing
      a study on cell regeneration. It’s also in the east somewhere but they are
      extending their trails to other countries.