Pretoria - An official seal is all that stands between a patient with a severe psychiatric condition and medication which contains cannabis, which she urgently needs to treat her condition.
The medication, Bedrocan, is available in the Netherlands and the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis is willing to supply it. However, it requires an official stamp from the Medicines Control Council (MCC) in South Africa to confirm the authenticity of the approved licence it has awarded.
The lawyer of the patient (whose details may not be divulged), Niel du Plessis, said they had obtained an extremely urgent order from the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on August 17 in a bid to receive the medication.
Judge Nicolene Janse van Nieuwenhuizen at the time ordered the MCC to do “all things necessary” to prove the authenticity of the document requesting the medication from the Netherlands.
Although the MCC did send a document to the authorities requesting the medication, the authorities in the Netherlands said they needed the official stamp on it.
Du Plessis said that in spite of numerous letters to the MCC, they had to date not sent the sealed document. The patient, according to her psychiatrist, Dr DS Eliasov, is in dire need of Bedrocan, as she is not responding to any other medication.
Du Plessis had requested the MCC on various occasions to meet with him so they could reach an amicable solution on the way forward.
The only response was from the State Attorney’s office, which represents the MCC, for a copy of last month’s court order. This was in spite of the order being served on the MCC shortly after it was handed down by the court last month.
“We want to find an urgent solution to this problem and do not want to turn to court again. But if the MCC does not adhere to the court order, we will be forced to once again approach the court on an extremely urgent basis.”
Du Plessis said it appeared that the MCC was simply not applying its mind to the dire situation.
Eliasov, in an affidavit, said she had approached the MCC in June this year in a bid to obtain the medicine. She said her patient required urgent treatment as she was suicidal and posed a danger to herself.
“Her condition is completely treatment-resistant and thus a prescription of cannabis would be appropriate under these exceptional and urgent circumstances.”
She said her patient’s mental state was progressively worsening as no sedative had any effect on her. According to the psychiatrist, Bedrocan was now their only hope.
The patient recently received deep brain stimulation surgery but it is said that her condition had worsened. “Her obsessions are more frequent, violent and graphic.”
Eliasov, in a report handed to court regarding her patient’s condition, said she avoided being around children as she feared she may harm them. She is unable to make eye contact and will turn her face away and squeeze her eyes shut.
She maintained a stooped posture and “sits on her hands”, “so she won’t hurt anyone”. She cuts herself “to avoid cutting others” and scratches herself repeatedly.
She had very poor response to a range of psychiatric medicines and her quality of life was deteriorating by the day. It was not envisaged that she would be on Bedrocan forever, but it could facilitate her receptiveness to more mainstream medication, her psychiatrist said.