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According to an IOL report, South Africa has joined the ranks of 27 US States by legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes, as the Medical Control Council (MCC) announced that it will publish guidelines for medical cannabis production.

IFP MP Narend Singh said a letter sent to him by the MCCl’s working group on cannabis, indicated that it would publish its proposed guidelines on cannabis production for medicinal use following its presentation to the council last week.

The framework suggested by the MCC is still a strict one, but is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. The Medical Control Council recommendations will allow patients with severe medical conditions to appeal to the council for approval for medical cannabis which will then be dispensed under supervision by medical practitioners.

The new guidelines, however, will deal with how the drug can be produced for medical use.

Key members of the IFP applauded the decision as a “major victory,” and gave tribute to late MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, who had pushed for legalizing medical cannabis prior to his death from lung cancer back in 2014.

Reveling in the victory for patients across South Africa, IFP MP Narend Singh hailed the significance of the reforms, referring to them as a “major breakthrough and fantastic news for freedom of choice.”

Speaking about the efforts the deceased MP made to help bring medical cannabis to patients across South Africa, Singh said: “Mario fought tirelessly for this and although he proposed cannabis beyond medicinal use to also include it for recreational use, we agreed to withdraw every clause relating to non-medicinal use in our efforts to ensure it becomes legal.”

Cannabis in South Africa

In the report, Singh noting that “thousands of patients” were already using cannabis oil but at “exorbitant costs.”

He added: “Production must be aimed at making it a medicinal, affordable drug for those who need it.

“It should not be an exclusive drug of choice for those who have the money. That is what we are arguing for.”

The bill has not gone uncontested. South Africa’s Anti-Drug Alliance (ADA) have opposed the introduction of safe medicine into South Africa.

Quintin van Kerken, a representative for the ADA, rallied against the move, claiming that medical experts and professionals “need massive education” about cannabis products prior to recommend its use to patients.

He continued: “They [doctors] need to unlearn a lot of the negative myths around cannabis if patients’ right to cannabis can be fully supported by health professionals,” he said.

The Medical Control Council did not provide a timeline for the guidelines’ publication.

By Miles Casey

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What do you think about South Africa’s decision to allow desperate patients the opportunity to medicate legally? Are the restrictions too severe or a step in the right direction?

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