Government has taken its first official steps in legalising the manufacture of marijuana for medicinal use, according to a report by The Mercury.
This follows a letter sent by the Medical Control Council to IFP MP, Narend Singh (subsequently verified by The Mercury) which indicated it would publish its proposed guidelines on cannabis production for medicinal use within the coming months, following the IFP’s presentation to the council earlier in February.
“This is a major breakthrough and fantastic news for freedom of choice,” said Singh.
The South African Medical Association said that access to legal marijuana will follow a strict set of guidelines.
“On 23 November, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health announced that the Department of Health would soon regulate access to medical cannabis for prescribed health conditions,” said SAMA chairman, Mzukisi Grootboom.
“The public, and healthcare professionals, should note, however, that the Medical Innovation Bill seeks to allow cannabis for medical purposes only.
The bill, and the regulatory framework to be introduced by the Health Department, do not apply to cannabis for recreational purposes, which remains illegal in South Africa.”
The new rules
The Medicines Control Council is South Africa’s drug regulatory authority which is governed by the Medicines and Related Substances Act.
Under this Act, medical practitioners can apply to the Council for permission to access and prescribe unregistered medicines – including cannabis – for their patients in certain exceptional circumstances.
Medicinal cannabis products may thus be made available to specific patients under medical supervision.
Only registered medical practitioners may apply for authorisation to prescribe a controlled medicine for a specific patient.
The legislative framework to allow for domestic cultivation of medicinal cannabis is currently under development by the Department of Health in consultation with the Medicines Control Council