Terminally ill, or patients with chronic pain appear to be a step closer to being able to access dagga to treat their symptoms after political parties decided to work together in parliament to ensure access to medicinal dagga.
Yesterday, parliament’s portfolio committee on health met to discuss the Medical Innovations Bill, a private member’s bill submitted by the IFP’s Narend Singh, which calls for access to dagga for medical use.
Singh said he “felt like I am on a high” having seen the steps the Department of Health and the Medicines Control Council (MCC) had taken to ensure dagga could be used to treat pain, nausea and spasms associated with illnesses like cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis.
The MCC outlined steps which included new regulations and the promulgation of certain key pieces of legislation, which could bring access to the drug more readily.
MCC medicines registrar Dr Joey Gouws said a pharmaceutical grade drug, Donabinol, which contains THC, the active ingredient of dagga, was available as a schedule six drug, meaning it can be accessed by patients through a prescription.
A second drug, Savitex is undergoing review.
Gouws said the promulgation of the Health Products Regulation Authority Act, would go a long way towards allowing dagga to be grown and harvested in South Africa with medicines produced from these.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Agency (SAHPRA) Act had been signed by the president but regulations had to be drawn up before the act could be promulgated into law.
Gouws said these had been finalised and it was hoped that the act would come into effect on April 1.
That would allow for producers to be licensed and guidelines put in place to grow medicinal dagga.