The legal use of medical cannabis made headway this week as South Africa’s department of health plans to have cannabis recognised as a prescription drug, rather than an illegal substance.

The Medical Control Council (MCC) has announced that their investigation into the use of medical cannabis has made progress. MCC registrar Dr Joey Gouws briefed the National Assembly on Health this week. She says that the regulation of medical cannabis will start as early as February.

This will entail the issuing of permits to ensure:

So Why Is This Possible Now?

The MCC described this Act as enabling. Stating that all that is missing is the licensing of developing quality assured products.

How Likely Is It To Go Through?

Well, recently Parliament proposed a Medical Innovation Bill. This Bill also seeks to legalise cannabis for medical use. It wishes to pave the way for increased research and use of alternative medicines in cancer and terminal patients.

It argues that:

Parliament commends the MCC on their “remarkable progress”. And Narend Singh, IFP chief whip, says that the party will consider withdrawing its tabling of the Medical Innovation Bill if the new regulations meet the objectives of the Bill.

He says: “What I would like to see is that cannabis products should be made available to all, including the poor. At the moment, these drugs are available on the black market and they are very expensive. That means many poor South Africans don’t have access to these drugs despite their pain-relief benefits for chronic pain.”

The MCC also says that discussions with various stakeholders are already underway.

Who Would Be Eligible For A Prescription?

Dr Gouws says that those eligible for treatment would include:

She says that there is, however, also a need for ongoing research into the long term effects of medical cannabis.

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