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IFP pushes for legalisation of weed
The Medical Innovations Bill was first introduced to parliament in 2014 as a Private Member's Bill by the late IFP MP Mario Ambrosini, who had used cannabinoids in the treatment of his own lung cancer.
"There is no rational argument for continuing to deprive medical marijuana to people like me who need it," he told parliament at the time.
President Jacob Zuma heard his plea and promised to pursue the matter. However, after several delays, the legislation came to a standstill.
IFP chief whip Narend Singh yesterday said he hoped to have some resolution to allow people to use medical marijuana by the year's end.
After Ambrosini's death, the bill was transferred into Singh's name.
Yesterday, Singh said there had been some submissions made to parliament around the bill, but the party had halted these to enter bi-lateral negotiations with the ANC.
The ANC had indicated that they were "keen" to see the bill passed for the use of cannabinoids in palliative care and a research team comprising the director general of health, members of the Medicines Control Council and parliamentary legal advisors had been assembled.
The bill has however been stalled as the Department of Health was waiting for a pronouncement from the UN on the use of the plant for medical purposes. The UN's April pronouncement was however not in favour of its use, despite decisions by countries like the US, Canada and Germany to legalise its use for medical purposes.
The first incarnation of the bill also allowed for the use of cannabinoids in industry and manufacture but Singh said a new, reworked version would focus solely on its medical use. But he said, the party was not "married" to the idea of a Private Member's Bill and would accept changes to current legislation.
He said that a Parliamentary Legal Advisor had indicated that the Drugs Act, when read together with the Medicine's Act allowed for the use or manufacture of the drug for medicinal purposes, provided permission had been granted by the director general of health.
Singh said while some submissions had been made around the danger of cannabis for children and its role as a so-called "gateway drug", the "emotion" needed to be removed from the argument in a bid to provide pain relief for thousands of terminally ill patients.
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