Es­sen­tial to reg­u­late cannabis for both medic­i­nal and med­i­cal use

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Doc­tors For Life In­ter­na­tional

THE CANNABIS court case, or so-called “trial of the plant” that started yes­ter­day in the Pre­to­ria High Court, is about the le­gal­i­sa­tion of cannabis (dagga). The use of the weed for medic­i­nal pur­poses is, how­ever, be­ing mis­used across the world as the thin edge of the wedge to get it le­galised.

In the World Drug Re­port of 2017, Ex­ec­u­tive Sum­mary, Con­clu­sion and Pol­icy Im­pli­ca­tions, the UN Of­fice on Drugs and Crime of­fi­cially holds the same po­si­tion that Doc­tors For Life In­ter­na­tional (DFL) has taken for the pur­poses of this court case: “Med­i­cal use of cannabis needs a sci­en­tific ap­proach”.

Re­search has shown that, not­with­stand­ing the use­ful­ness of some cannabi­noids in the man­age­ment of spe­cific med­i­cal con­di­tions, their use, par­tic­u­larly in the botan­i­cal form of herbal cannabis with un­known con­tent and dosage, can be detri­men­tal to health.

To pro­tect hu­man health, it is there­fore nec­es­sary that the prin­ci­ples of safety, qual­ity and ef­fi­cacy and the rig­or­ous sci­en­tific test­ing and reg­u­la­tory sys­tems that ap­ply to es­tab­lished medicines be ap­plied also to cannabis-based medicines.

In light of the above men­tioned rig­or­ous prin­ci­ples for al­low­ing dagga for med­i­cal use, we can­not see how South Africa can con­sider le­gal­is­ing dagga for re­cre­ational use.

DFL rep­re­sents 1 500 med­i­cal doc­tors and spe­cial­ists, three-quar­ters of whom prac­tise in South Africa.

Since 1991, DFL has been ac­tively pro­mot­ing sound science in the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion and health care that is safe and ef­fi­cient for all South Africans.

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