Pubdate: Wed, 10 Sep 2014
Source: Mercury, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2014 The Mercury.
Authors: Babalo Ndenze and Bongani Hans
Page: 4


THE late IFP MP Mario Ambrosini's private member's bill calling for 
the legalisation of dagga has been revived by Parliament, following 
his death last month.

Ambrosini decided to end his life after battling stage-four lung 
cancer for more than a year, his family said soon after his death.

Picking up where Ambrosini left off, the ANC moved a motion in the 
National Assembly yesterday to note the Medical Innovation Bill, 
which calls for the legalisation of dagga for medicinal purposes.

The bill lapsed when Ambrosini ceased to be an MP, and has now been 
revived by IFP chief whip Narend Singh.

In his motion to the house, ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said that the 
Medical Innovation Bill was revived from the stage at which it was 
referred to the portfolio committee on health in the sixth session of 
the fourth Parliament.

Sizani said the house further noted that the bill lapsed when 
Ambrosini ceased to be a member of the National Assembly.

The house resolved to suspend assembly rules 237 and 241 "to allow 
for the introduction of the Medical Innovation Bill by Singh and 
refer all public submissions previously received to the relevant committee".

Singh said it would take about 18 months to process the bill.

"Firstly, as the IFP we are delighted that all parties have

Tagreed that this bill be retabled in the name of the honourable 
Singh and the wishes of the late honourable Ambrosini. "We feel it's 
a very positive step, and we hope that after acceptance of resolution 
by the house that the portfolio committee on health will now be 
seized with responsibility of calling the sponsor of the bill and 
other people who want to make submissions on the bill to do so," said Singh.

He said it should not be considered just in principle, but "clause by clause".

Singh said Ambrosini had no choice but to illegally use 
"cannabinoids" found in dagga to ease his pain until he died.

Yesterday the Cancer Association of SA welcomed the move and said 
they would be pleased when the bill was finally passed into law.

Cansa's medical health head, Professor Michael Herbst, said that, 
although there was adequate medicine for cancer patients, dagga would 
be welcomed as an additional treatment.

"We are not in the anti-marijuana lobby, and we are not necessarily 
in the pro-marijuana lobby. If it becomes legal, we will accept the 
situation, and we will adopt a position in line with the law," said Herbst.

Myrtle Clarke, from the promarijuana lobby group Field of Green for 
All, said the group had already started the process of challenging 
the illegality of cannabis in court.

"The existing laws will be challenged all the way to the 
Constitutional Court. This process will start in the North Gauteng 
High Court in March next year," she said.
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