Guidelines from the Medicines Control Council

While medical marijuana isn’t legal in our country yet, the South African Medicines Control Council (MCC) has released a draft of rules and regulations for growing and distributing cannabis.

Building on the Medical Innovation Bill, which was first introduced by IFP MP Mario Ambrosini, the MCC’s guidelines lay out a stringent process to ensure that marijuana and any derived products are only used for medical purposes. Additionally, all parties involved in growing, administering and using medical marijuana will be monitored closely.

Applying to Grow Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes

In terms of the provisions of Section 22C(1)(b) of the Medicines Act, applicants will have to apply for a licence to the MCC to:

  •  Cultivate/grow and produce cannabis and cannabis resin;
  •  Extract and test cannabis, cannabis resin and/or cannabinoids;
  •  Manufacture a medicine containing cannabinoids.

A licence application must be sent to the Director-General of Health for a permit, which will only be granted once applicants pass a suitability test.  In terms of domestic cultivation, farmers need to ensure that a number of security measures are in place before they will be allowed to grow crops.

According to Regulation 14(2)(c) of the Medicines Act, the Director- General of Health can refuse to issue a permit if an applicant is not capable of keeping or storing controlled substances in a manner that prevents its loss.

There are a number of critical security principles that are required to be reflected in an Applicant’s security policies and procedures. These, amongst others, include:

  •  discouraging persons from attempting to breach security measures;
  •  preventing acts aimed at breaching security measures, including measures to delay security breaches to provide time for defence or leading to the intrusion being abandoned;
  •  preventative measures that allow access to authorised persons while declining access to others;
  •  detection measures to discover security breaches; and
  •  defined actions to be taken to respond to a security breach.

Prescribing Medical Marijuana

Medical practitioners will be obligated to apply to the MCC for permission to prescribe cannabis, and only registered doctors will be considered for a permit.

Their patients and dosages will also have to be monitored strictly.

While the actual date for when the medical marijuana will be legalised is still up in the air, it’s been reported that it could be as soon as April 2017.

Read more on the MCC’s full report.