South Africa is the only nation on the globe’s first continent where sick people can access medical marijuana, but “dagga oil” is restricted to extremely sick people with fatal illness.
That’s poised to change sometime this year. The nation’s Medical Control Council recently announced they will be publishing new proposed guidelines for the production and distribution of medical marijuana. The next step is allowing the public to review the guidelines and suggest changes.
This means access won’t happen overnight, or even this month, as one excitable news source erroneously reported. But Narend Singh — chief whip of the right-wing Inkatha Freedom Party behind the push for medical marijuana — said it also mean the government is taking medical cannabis seriously, and is moving quickly to make it a reality.
From News 24:
“There seems to be a realization that we cannot be left out as a country with permitting the use of medical marijuana. Other countries are doing that under very strict conditions.”
Medical cannabis access has been a key goal of Singh’s IFP since 2014, when Mario Oriani-Ambrosini — an IFP member of Parliament stricken with late-stage lung cancer — made an impassioned plea for legal marijuana access on the floor of the national assembly shortly before he died.
That push for medical cannabis gained momentum last year, when the country’s national health officials endorsed researching marijuana’s efficacy for treating certain serious illnesses and removed “dagga” from a list similar to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in the United States.
But Singh also had a bucketful of cold water to throw in the face of advocates for marijuana legalization — this won’t be it:
“Our concern is that we don’t want this to be a free-for-all. Recreational users must not feel they can just go plant this and use it in whatever form they want.”
Only a few other countries have taken action on the national level to reform marijuana policy, among them Canada and Israel. Canada’s prime minister has promised to legalize cannabis federally sometime this year and Israel has announced plans to make cannabis available for export in the near future.
In South Africa, there’s no word yet on when a supply would be available, to whom or who would produce it. However, it appears likely to be kept within the nation’s healthcare system: the country will likely allow cannabis to be dispensed in government hospitals, Singh said.
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