South Africa has legalized cannabis for medicinal use as the Medical Control Council announced it would publish guidelines for medical cannabis production, according to an IOL report. The framework would allow patients with severe medical conditions to appeal to the council for approval for medical cannabis which would be dispensed under supervision by medical practitioners.

Members of the Inkatha Freedom Party called the decision a “major victory” and tribute to late MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini who pushed for legalizing medical cannabis prior to his death from lung cancer in 2014.

IFP MP Narend Singh hailed the reforms as a “major breakthrough and fantastic news for freedom of choice.”

“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 said in the report, noting that “thousands of patients” are already using the oil but at “exorbitant costs.”

“Production must be aimed at making it a medicinal, affordable drug for those who need it. It should not be an exclusive drug of choice for those who have the money,” he said. “That is what we are arguing for.”

Quintin van Kerken, a representative for South Africa’s Anti-Drug Alliance, said that medical professionals “need massive education” about the products before they are able to recommend their use to patients.

“They need to unlearn a lot of the negative myths around cannabis if patients’ right to cannabis can be fully supported by health professionals,” he said.

The Medical Control Council did not provide a timeline for the guidelines’ publication.

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