The move was hailed as a major victory by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and a tribute to one of its Members of Parliament, the late Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who fought for the legalization of cannabis oil, known in South Africa as “dagga” oil.
Italian-born South African MP Oriani-Ambrosini started the debate over medical cannabis when he stood up in the South African National Assembly in 2014 and made a direct, impassioned plea to South African President Jacob Zuma to decriminalize dagga oil for medical use.
Six months later, MP Oriani-Ambrosini died of stage 4 lung cancer.
The use of, and access to, medical marijuana for South Africans will soon be up for public comment, the Inkatha Freedom Party announced on Monday, according to IOL News.
“This is a major breakthrough and fantastic news for freedom of choice,” said IFP Member of Parliament, Narend Singh. “Thousands of patients are already using cannabis oil, which comes at a premium price, and we wanted it to be made freely accessible so that the patient going to Addington or any other state hospital can request this without the exorbitant costs associated. Patients must have the freedom of choice.”
The current framework allows for use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, although under strict regulations, which include requesting permission from the South African Medicines Control Council for use in certain exceptional circumstances and only under supervision.
The guidelines, to be published soon, will deal with how, specifically, medical cannabis can be produced for medical use.
Quintin van Kerken, a representative for South Africa’s Anti-Drug Alliance, told IOL News that medical professionals “need massive education” about the products before they are able to recommend their use to patients.
‘‘They need to unlearn a lot of the negative myths around cannabis if patients’ right to cannabis can be fully supported by health professionals,” said van Kerken.
MP Singh agreed and warned, that cannabis production and distribution could be monopolized if not handled correctly.
“Production must be aimed at making it a medicinal, affordable drug for those who need it,” he told Durban’s IOL. “It should not be an exclusive drug of choice for those who have the money. That is what we are arguing for.”