Pubdate: Fri, 21 Feb 2014
Source: Citizen, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2014 The Citizen


Cancer-stricken IFP MP Mario Ambrosini's heartfelt plea for the 
decriminalisation of cannabis for medicinal purposes comes at a time 
when use of the drug is increasing becoming acceptable worldwide. 
While cannabis remains illegal in most countries, the US states of 
Colorado and Washington have recently legalised use and possession.

In December Uruguay became the first country to legalise the sale, 
cultivation and distribution of cannabis. Medicinal use is allowed in 
20 US states and a number of countries, including France, Austria, 
Canada, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal 
and Spain and the Czech Republic.

So South Africa would be following a trend if Ambrosini's private 
member's Bill is adopted by Parliament.

Since being diagnosed with stage four cancer early last year, when he 
was given less than three months to live, Ambrosini has followed a 
treatment regime which includes the use of cannabis oil. He believes 
this has enabled him to live longer and in less pain than would have 
been the case with conventional medicine.

Benefits associated with cannabis treatment include pain relief. It 
is also said to reduce nausea and vomiting, act as an 
anti-inflammatory and induce relaxation. However, critics of 
decriminalisation maintain that not all negative side effects have 
been taken into account.

A common argument is that the use of dagga often leads to harder 
drugs and is associated with other crimes. These points are more 
applicable to the debate about legalising dagga in the way Uruguay has done.

The narrower case for decriminalisation for medicinal use, as pleaded 
by Ambrosini, is more urgent and persuasive.

A working group has made presentations to Health Minister Aaron 
Motsoaledi. There are suggestions government may be receptive.

Perhaps a joint sitting would make the right decision.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom