PRETORIA - The medicinal benefits of cannabis have not been fully utilised in South Africa and it could impact many people, the University of Free State's Professor Motlalepula Matsabisa said on Thursday.
"With cannabis it has been really a plant that has not been given justice. In its long history, in the past people did not understand the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Cannabis was seen as a plant used by Rastas, but in fact the Rastas have been using cannabis for rituals and medicinal purposes. There was a total misinterpretation on the potential benefits of cannabis," Matsabisa told African News Agency at the ongoing Science Forum South African Innovation Bridge 2019 (SFSAIB) in Pretoria.
"I didn't come here to preach, saying cannabis does not or may not have side effects. Like any other drug, it would have side effects. For every other medication, there needs to be rationale use. We need to begin to study cannabis systematically and try to derive maximum benefits out of it."
He said the University of the Free State is using the science forum, attended by thousands of scholars and enthusiasts from different parts of the world, to showcase medicine and research particularly from natural products and medicinal plants.
"We work on cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and mental problems. All we do is based on traditional knowledge, traditional medicines and medicinal plants. Throughout this week we have been showcasing some of the products that we have developed from cannabis, and some we have developed from our indigenous teas. Our people have been using plants as health teas, but these have not been developed so that they get into formal economies," said Matsabisa.