The cultivation of dagga for medicinal purposes in South Africa could become reality as soon as April 2017.
This comes after Parliament’s health committee finally pedaled the implementation of the Medical Innovation Bill.
The Medical Innovation Bill was proposed by Inkatha Freedom Party’s Dr. Mario Oriani-Ambrosini and has been in the pipeline for three years.
The former IFP member proposed the MIB while battling lung cancer. He took his life in 2014.
In its report, the Health Department says it will publish guidelines for the medicine by the end of the year while guidelines for its growth for medicinal use will be unveiled by February next year.
Department of Health spokesperson Joey Gouws said: “The department is of the opinion that the director general will regulate the proposed growers of medical cannabis by issuing a permit for the controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use and then specifically these products will then be manufactured and supplied under controlled conditions.”
She stressed that the department would ensure the medicine are prescribed specifically for patients with muscle spasm and severe chronic pain.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh expressed happiness with the development. The MP upheld that the Medical Innovation Bill proposal marks a victory for his departed colleague.
“This heralds a great step forward for public access and research into the use of medicinal cannabis … What matters now is that the department ensures that access to medicinal cannabis will not be restricted to the rich,” Singh added.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) MPs had earlier kicked against the bill. But the party made a u-turn on the matter, admitting that the bill would empower the soon-to-be established South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to license specific producers of cannabis.
Weighing in on the matter, SA Cannabis Community and Regulatory Authority (Saccra) spokesperson Jason O’Donoghue called on suppliers to ensure excellence both in growing and making dagga tea once the bill becomes a law.
Meanwhile, thousands of medicinal cannabis users in KwaZulu-Natal, where demand for medicinal cannabis is on the increase have welcomed the news.
The excited health carers and pensioners said the law will hopefully put an end to the incessant harassment and arrest by the KZN’s justice system.
Dagga is mostly grown in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South-Eastern Cape, Swaziland and the Drakensberg region. Sometimes, it grows prolifically in very poor and mountainous soil and yields very lucrative cash crops to some communities.
The medicine can also be referred to as: Grass, boom, joint, zol, dope, skyf, weed, hash, majat(a low-grade dagga), poison, pepper skyf, ganja, Swazi Gold, Malawi Gold, mabange, insangu, imya, lebake, splif, Transkei Colly, Durban poison etc.