‘Don’t legalise marijuana yet’

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A CALL for a review and thorough research into proposed marijuana legislation has been made. If legalised, the move will see South Africa becoming the first country on the African continent to change cannabis from a schedule 7 banned substance to a schedule 6 prescription drug.

Psychiatry Management Group board member Dr Shaquir Salduker said while easing the law to allow medical research was a good idea, releasing it for general consumption opened the door for possible abuse.

The debate for and against the legalisation of dagga for medical use has put sections of the country at loggerheads. Some argue there is not enough scientific evidence while others cite examples of places that have legalised dagga like some US states.

The legislation change should be scientific not socially driven and we don’t have enough research to understand the complexity of the substance to say it’s safe for long term use.

The government’s proposal should focus on legalisation for research and ease of access in appropriate patient groups for example palliative care, pain control, and cancer patients.

In countries that have legalised it, there have been fraudulent prescriptions and an epidemic of abuse, especially among those younger than 18,” Salduker said. Former IFP MP Mario Ambrosini led calls for the legalisation of medical marijuana after he used it to manage his terminal lung cancer.

Some studies show that cannabis is as effective as existing painkillers but there are no landmark studies into its role in pain management that would make it a revolutionary agent in pain control,” Sanduker said.

Ambrosini died never having realised his wish for marijuana to be legalised for medical use.

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