IFP welcomes 'giant step forward' for medical cannabis use

2016-11-24 19:07
Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

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MP calls for legal medical marijuana

2014-02-20 16:17

News24 interviews cancer-stricken IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini about his impassioned plea to President Jacob Zuma to decriminalise the medical use of dagga. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - The IFP has welcomed the Department of Health's commitment to opening up processes that could lead to the legalisation of medical cannabis for chronic illnesses.

The department and the Medicines Control Council announced in Parliament on Wednesday that it will soon request public comment on the Medical Innovation Bill, the party said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Bill was first introduced by former IFP MP Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini during his own fight with terminal cancer before his death in 2014.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh praised the announcement, saying it was a "giant step forward" in the two-year fight for regulated medicinal cannabis use in South Africa.

"This is a victory for every South African unnecessarily suffering because of HIV/Aids, severe chronic pain, severe muscle spasms, vomiting or wasting arising from cancer, or severe seizures resulting from epileptic conditions where other treatment options have failed or have had intolerable side effects," he said.

Singh reintroduced the Bill following Oriani-Ambrosini's death to ensure that the "vital issue would stay on the table". It will form the legal framework for the use of medical cannabis under strict conditions.

The new regulatory framework could be available by the end of January 2017 for stakeholder comment and could be implemented by April 2017.

Call for no restrictions

"I feel a great sense of relief," Singh said. "I must thank the department for taking up this issue with such passionate concern for our people."

He said the department must now ensure that access to medicinal cannabis will not be restricted to the rich only. He also praised the committee's unity on the issue.

The Democratic Alliance also welcomed the steps taken by the department and urged Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi to sign off on the process.

DA MP Heinrich Volmink said on Thursday the proposed reforms would empower the soon-to-be established South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to licence specific producers of cannabis provided strict conditions are met.

"This will ultimately give patients and their healthcare providers greater choice in treating certain difficult conditions through the use of safe medicinal cannabis," Volmink said.

Portfolio committee on health chairperson Mary-Ann Dunjwa was unavailable for comment on Thursday at the time of publication.

Committee secretary Vuyokazi Majalamba said Dunjwa would release an official statement on the matter on Friday.

The Medicines Control Council's Dr Joey Gouws, who gave the presentation, was also unavailable for comment as she was in transit at the time of publication.

Read more on:    ifp  |  mario oriani-ambrosini  |  legislation  |  cannabis

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