MEMBERS of parliament and medical researchers have rejected a bill calling for the legalisation of dagga for commercial and medicinal use, with some warning against the hazardous effects it has on families and communities.
MPs, legal and clinical specialists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) yesterday discussed the Medical Innovation Bill, which was initially introduced as a private members’ bill by IFP MP Mario Ambrosini before he died.
Ambrosini was using medicated dagga before he ended his own life after battling stage four lung cancer for more than a year.
ANC MP Nonhlanhla Ndaba was specifically dismissive of the proposed legislation.
“I believe that dagga cannot cure cancer, but I think I agree in terms of pain management.
“Obviously, so does any substance that you use, which makes you like drunk so you can’t feel pain.
“The experience I have of people smoking dagga makes me believe there is not any stage where I will agree that we can legislate such a bill,” Ndaba said.
Members of the committee, as well as researchers from the MRC, were explicit on how legalisation and commercialisation of dagga needed to be separated from medicinal use.
The MRC briefed the committee on the legal implications and clinical research conducted by international health experts.
The officials said further investigation was needed before the matter could be finalised.
Professor Charles Parry, the MRC’s director of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs research unit, said the council did not support the bill in its current form.
“We believe the Medicines Control Council needs to consider the evidence before registering cannabinoids or cannabis in South Africa.”
He said it was problematic that the bill sought to do more than just promote medical innovation.
“It has a subsidiary aim of promoting legalisation in general,” Parry told the committee.
DA MP Wilmot James said his party had not yet taken a position on the bill.