Johannesburg - For hundreds of years, South African traditional healers have used the cannabis plant in healing ailments and treating their patients.
Now, the Cancer Treatment Campaign (CTC) says it would welcome the research and knowledge of these healers as further motivation for the legalisation of cannabinoids.
Almost two weeks ago, IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini submitted his private member’s Medical Innovation Bill before Parliament.
The bill seeks to legalise the use of cannabinoids for medical, commercial and industrial purposes.
Ambrosini – who was diagnosed with late-stage inoperable lung cancer last year – has admitted to using cannabis oil rectally.
He also admitted that the illegal and alternative treatment that he had administered in unregistered private clinics in Europe had extended his life expectancy dramatically.
Cannabinoids are the chemical constituents of the plant known as marijuana or dagga.
Cannabis has been known to be helpful in treating nausea caused by chemotherapy and for treating pain that is not relieved by conventional medicine.
“Cannabis and other plants are much used in traditional healing in South Africa, and traditional healers have been adjudged by the Supreme Court of Appeal to rank pari passu (hand-in-hand) with conventional medical practitioners,” advocate Robin Stransham-Ford said, speaking on behalf of the newly formed CTC.
The CTC was one of several bodies consulted in the drafting of the bill. In terms of the existing legislation, medical practitioners are prohibited from prescribing and administering “effective and harmless” treatments, including those involving cannabis.
In addition, clinical studies into the efficacy of the plant were often found not to be viable, while its substances were not capable of being patented. But Stransham-Ford said the CTC would back the plant as a form of medicine.
National co-ordinator for the Traditional Healers’ Organisation, Phepsile Maseko, said the organisation supported Ambrosini’s call for the legalisation of cannabinoids, but that their efforts had fallen on deaf ears.
The Cancer Association of South Africa has chosen to err on the side of caution regarding cancer patients using cannabis.
The bill is currently under discussion by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Cancer. - The Star