A Fight, A Win, and A Legacy in South Africa

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On Feb. 19, 2014, Member of Parliament Mario Oriani-Ambrosini stood up in the South African National Assembly and passionately introduced a private member’s bill to decriminalize the medical use of cannabis.

Other than wanting to make this wonderful medicine available for his fellow citizens, Oriani-Ambrosini had a very personal reason as his incentive: A few months earlier, he had publicly announced his diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer.

Time went on, and while other countries of the world made cannabis reform a reality, Oriani-Ambrosini and his fellow members of the IFP party continued to work vehemently to allow South Africans the same relief.

On Aug. 16, 2014, Oriani-Ambrosini lost his battle with cancer, but the latest announcement from the African nation proves that his fight for medical cannabis was not in vain.

The South African Government has given the go-ahead for the manufacture and distribution of cannabis as medicine. Oriani-Ambrosini’s party, the IFP, is calling it a “major victory” and a fitting tribute to its former member who fought for legalization.

It was reported that South Africa’s Medical Control Council recently sent a letter to IFP Member of Parliament Narend Singh, stating that it would publish proposed guidelines on cannabis production in the coming weeks.

An elated Singh stated that “Mario had fought tirelessly for this, and although he proposed cannabis beyond medicinal use to also include it for recreational use, we agreed to withdraw every clause relating to non-medicinal use in our efforts to ensure it becomes legal.”

Singh also added that thousands of patients are already using cannabis oil, which is very expensive in the nation, and a major catalyst for the bill was to make it freely accessible for patients who need it.

Under the proposed new rules, doctors can apply to the Medical Control Council to obtain permission to access cannabis for their patients. The council will authorize the prescription and appropriate dosage based on its intended use.

As well, there will be licensed domestic cultivation of medicinal cannabis for prescription and research purposes.

As South Africa moves ahead with this important legislation, along with it comes an enduring legacy started by one forward-thinking Member of Parliament. Although MP Oriani-Ambrosini is not here to see this landmark for the country, he lives on in every patient who will soon be able to experience profound relief based on his tireless efforts.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett

About Author

Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

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