He stressed the importance of ensuring that the cannabis products cancer patients used were registered with the agency.
Molewa said that in granting a licence, the agency looked at three things - quality, security and a solid business plan.
“When we look at quality of the product we also look at efficacy. During the process of applying for this registration, when we look at the business plan, it entails looking at quality management systems such as good agricultural practices. When looking at security, we look at how you store the seeds and how you establish the perimeter to your plant, as well as access,” he said.
In September, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ruled that the cultivation and use of dagga was legal for personal use.
Molewa said a common thread in the three components the agency looked at in granting a licence was a good documentation thread.
“This helps if there is a problem down the line and we need to trace where the fault was because it must be kept in mind that the people you are selling your product to already have a compromised immune system, and we don’t want to compromise it further,” he said.
He added that part of the process was an inspection of the place where the cannabis would be grown in order to properly advise prospective licence holders.
“We don’t expect you to have a multimillion-rand plant before we grant you a licence; all you need is just the bare minimum,” said Molewa.
He added that when it came to legislation and regulation in this matter, things were evolving rapidly with committees meeting almost once a week.
“A lot is happening behind the scenes, and within 12 months we hope to have something before Parliament for debate,” he said.
Also speaking at the seminar was IFP MP Narend Singh, who also stressed the importance of the regulation of cannabis products.
Singh, along with the late Mario Ambrosini, an IFP MP who had lung cancer, fought in Parliament for the Medical Innovation Bill that sought to legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
He said he got involved with the bill because he wanted to see proper regulation of the product. Singh added that after Ambrosini’s death in 2014, a post-mortem revealed there were traces of heavy metal in his blood.
Ambrosini had been using cannabis oil, and Singh said these metal traces could have been due to the product he was using being cultivated near a mine.
“We want to make sure that people use registered products prescribed by doctors with permission from the patient. We don’t want people to buy unregistered products,” he said.