Dagga farming: few will be able to fulfil requirements

2017-03-08 15:01
Only a few farmers will be able or equipped to meet the stringent growing and production requirements to grow dagga for medicine extracts.

Only a few farmers will be able or equipped to meet the stringent growing and production requirements to grow dagga for medicine extracts. (File)

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The Medicines Control Council (MCC) on Monday promulgated 32 pages of guidelines for prospective growers of medical cannabis in South Africa.

According to the guidelines, anyone can apply, but few farmers will be able or equipped to meet the stringent growing and production requirements to grow dagga for medicine extracts.

The cost to apply for a manufacturer’s licence is R21 800 to the Registrar.

Applicants will need to show “adequate measures to ensure security, transport, destruction, reporting and employment of suitable persons” to be considered for a licence, which will be granted if the farmer can also show the ability to adhere to the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for medicines in SA. Registrar of medicines Dr Joey Gouws said anyone with a conviction for an illicit drug-related offence may not apply. This includes anyone ever arrested for being in possession of dagga in South Africa. Dagga, meanwhile, remains a prohibited narcotic substance in South Africa and growing it without a licence remains a criminal offence.

PUBLIC COMMENT DUE

The general public has until the end the month to comment on these proposed regulations to grow cannabis for medicinal use.

Jeremy Acton and Ras Gareth Prince of the Dagga Party commented on Twitter: “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again ... dagga being illegal is a major source of corruption within the South African Police Service and in the criminal justice system in general.”

Green Fields for All’s Julian Stobbs earlier told the Daily Maverick the only thing a cannabis grower should need is a tax number. “[Cannabis] should be like the tobacco market in Zimbabwe, where everybody brings their crop to a central warehouse to get auctioned. Quality control and taxation happens at the warehouse,” Stobbs said.

Meanwhile, two high court challenges on the constitutionality of laws against cannabis in South Africa continue, led by the Dagga Party in Cape Town and, in Pretoria, by Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke.

• Download the MCC’s cannabis cultivation proposals from the notice board on www.mccza.com; and send comments to the registrar on gouwsj@health.gov.za

• Post your views on medicinal cannabis on The Witness Facebook page.

Patients who need to use dagga can still apply to the Medicines Control Council for permission, where the registrar of medicines Dr Joey Gouws Gouws advises patients need to get three permits:

from the director-general of Health to be in possession of cannabis at a cost of R820 per permit;

authorisation from the MCC to use dagga (which is regarded an unregistered medicine) as a medicine at a cost of R300 per application; and

a prescription from a medical practitioner (doctor) for cannabis with a motivation to the MCC why the patient needs the unregistered medicine, detailing the dosage regimen and the symptoms to be treated.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  dagga legalisation

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