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Today at the Portfolio Committee on Health, the Department of Health outlined a clear plan that would see the greater availability of medicinal cannabis to those who suffer from chronic pain.
Medicinal cannabis, if appropriately prescribed, can be of great value in treating conditions such as severe chronic pain. Currently, the prescription of medicinal cannabis often has to go through a complicated bureaucratic process that requires a special permit from the DG of Health.
The proposed reforms in the regulations would empower the soon-to-be established South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to license specific producers of cannabis, provided that strict conditions are met.
This could see a greater shift of medicinal cannabis products to Schedule 6, meaning that appropriately qualified health care providers (such as GPs with dispensing licenses) could prescribe medicinal cannabis in the same way as any other drug, provided there is a justifiable clinical reason to do so.
We welcome the progressive path that the Department has taken on this issue and urge the Minister of Health to sign-off on the new regulations so that the process can be opened up to public comment.
The faster this process can be undertaken, the quicker these products can be made available to those who need it. This will ultimately give patients and their health care provider’s greater choice in treating certain difficult conditions through the use of safe, medicinal cannabis.