Article by Blake Taylor, Merry Jane
South Africa is one giant step closer to legalizing marijuana, known as “dagga,” as the Department of Health moves forward to recognize the plant as prescription medication rather than a banned substance.
According to an article originally published by the Cape Argus newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa, the Medical Control Council (MCC) told Members of Parliament (MPs) it has “made progress in its investigation into the medicinal use of cannabis.”
MCC registrar Dr. Joey Gouws told the National Assembly committee on health it could start issuing permits for controlled cultivation and supply of high quality medicinal cannabis by February 2017, when the council is expected to publish the regulations.
One proposal by the MCC is to amend the Medicines and Related Substances Act, which has always permitted the use of cannabis for research purposes. However, it has remained illegal for medicinal use. The regulation would downgrade cannabis from a Schedule 7 banned substance to a Schedule 6 prescription drug.
The council briefing comes in the wake of the proposed Medical Innovation Bill that seeks to “pave the way for research and approval of alternative medicines to treat cancer and other terminal illnesses.” The briefing also citing the healing properties of cannabis as an inexpensive alternative to rising healthcare costs.