Medical dagga in the pipeline

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The so-called Dagga Couple are months away from heading to the North Guateng high court, to fight for the "re-legalisation" of cannabis. Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke were arrested in 2010 for possession with intent to sell dagga.

CAPE TOWN - Cultivating dagga for medicinal purposes could soon become a reality – but with strict regulations.

The Health Department says it will publish guidelines by the end of the year, it was briefing parliament’s health committee on the Medical Innovation Bill, proposed by former IFP MP, Mario Ambrosini, who died of cancer in 2014.

His party has welcomed the move.

Parliament’s health committee has finally had some progress on the Medical Innovation Bill proposed by Ambrosini, it has been on the table for three years.

It seeks to legalise the medicinal use of Cannabis - and it has the health department’s support.

The department says it will publish guidelines for its growth for medicinal use by February next year.

“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", said Joey Gouws, Department of Health

Gouws says the Medicines Control Act currently allows patients to obtain a permit for medicinal use.

"The department and the MCC have agreed that under certain conditions that cannabis would be considered and these conditions specifically related to muscle spasm then of course severe chronic pain," explains Gouws.

She says more research and clinical trials are also needed.

Politicians welcomed the department’s move, but also questioned accessibility of medicinal Cannabis to the poor.

The IFP says it’s a step in the right direction.

The party’s Narend Singh says it’s still opposed to the recreational use of marijuana.