The Medical Innovation Bill, a bill to legalize Cannabis in South Africa for medical, economic and industrial purposes, was introduced in parliament today.
The bill was submitted by Member of Parliament, Mario GR Oriani-Ambrosini from the Inkatha Freedom Party. The Medical Innovation Bill aims to make provision for innovations in medical treatments by legalising the use of cannabis for medical, economic and industrial purposes.
Last year Oriani-Ambrosini was diagnosed with stage four, inoperable lung cancer, which forms the background to this bill. People with life-threatening diseases such as cancer are legally denied access to a medicine that they could be growing themselves. Under current legislation, medical practitioners are legally denied the right to prescribe proven to be effective and harmless medication to their patients, which includes cannabis, on the basis that it hasn’t been approved in terms of the legally required double blind clinical studies.
However, such studies are often considered “economically” unviable. The profits in the pharmaceutical industry come from patents, and cannabis, a plant that’s in the public domain, can’t be patented. Oriani-Ambrosini said that millions of people were going through the hell of being a cancer patient, and die and suffer, possibly unnecessarily, because government was not funding research and expediting approval for treatments where there was no profit to be made. This results in unnecessary human suffering and death on a mass scale, with consequent immense social and economic costs.
That’s where the bill comes in. The bill’s objectives are to establish one or more research hospitals where medical innovation can take place, especially with regard to the treatment and cure of cancer. The bill would also legalize the medical, industrial and commercial use of dagga in South Africa in accordance with emerging world standards. The bill creates a dispensation that would only permit doctors in research hospitals that are authorized by the Minister of Health to prescribe and administer cannabis based medicine to South African patients.
Cannabis as a treatment for cancer has been well documented in the scientific community and the world is catching on; every day there are more and more cannabis and cancer success stories surfacing online. Last year Ambrosini publically stated that he was pursuing an alternative treatment to his cancer, and he had been doing so for a while. “At this point, I shall not speak or vouch for such a treatment, nor discredit it. My death or survival will do so”.
We certainly do live in interesting times.
The bill is available to view here, and the public is invited to comment. Please let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Watch the video of the bill being presented to parliament: