20 February 2017

South Africa: Rollout of Medical Marijuana Soon Up for Public Comment - IFP

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The use of, and access to, medical marijuana for South Africans will soon be up for public comment, the IFP said on Monday.

Speaking to News24, IFP chief whip Narend Singh said the party had been handed a letter from the Medical Control Council (MCC) saying it was publishing new guidelines on marijuana production for medical use.

The guidelines would be up for public comment in the coming weeks, Singh said.

"The guidelines from their side [MCC] are ready for public comment. In the next few weeks will be ready for public to comment on."

Singh said the IFP was pleased that the government and its agencies had sped up the process for access to medical marijuana.

"There seems to be a realisation 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."

Singh, however, added that the public should not think that marijuana would become fully legal overnight. He said there would be a strict regulatory process before people had access to it.

He added that research was required before a bill could be passed to legalise the substance for medical use.

"Even now, there is a perception when people see marijuana headlines that it will be legal. 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."

'Earmarked for pain relief'

Singh said marijuana should be strictly regulated by government, but suggested that it should be available to all South Africans for whom it could be helpful.

"The availability should include government hospitals."

Singh went on to say that the public should be responsible in responses to the public comment on the bill.

"The public should consider that this substance is not completely illegal. Its uses have been earmarked for pain relief."

The Department of Health in 2016 committed to opening up processes that could lead to the legalisation of medical marijuana for chronic illnesses.

The department and the MCC in 2016 announced that they would request public comment on the Medical Innovation Bill.

The Bill was first introduced by former IFP MP Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini during his own fight against terminal cancer, before his death in 2014.

Source: News24

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