The South African government is to look into the possibility of legalising the medical use of marijuana, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said during the second day of parliamentary debate on President Zuma’s State of the Nation address in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The followed a special plea to Zuma by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who was last year diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, to consider making it legal in South Africa to use marijuana (dagga) for medical reasons, saying not to do so would be a “crime against humanity”.
While tempers often flare in Parliament during fiery debates between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties, Ambrosini’s moving address drew a standing ovation from all members of the house.
Ambrosini said that decriminalising marijuana for medical use would not only help millions of South Africans who were suffering from his condition, but would also contribute to transforming the country’s health sector.
Sisulu, responding a short while later, said: “Mr Ambrosini, I have worked with you for many years and it hurts me to see you in the state that you are in.
I had a word, as you were speaking, with [Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi], and he indicates to me we are really keen to follow up on the discussion and research around the world on the issue of the potential of decriminalising medical marijuana. We are a caring society.”