PRETORIA, Feb 27– South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has downplayed suggestions that dagga — a plant commonly found in southern Africa, with mild psychoactive properties and used in traditional medicine — will be decriminalised for medical purposes.
Motsoaledi was responding to a call by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Member of Parliament Mario Ambrosini to legalise the drug for medicinal use. The IFP MP is suffering from lung cancer, but Motsoaledi says people shouldn’t get too excited.
The Minister said Wednesday: “What I am noticing here is a wrong excitement by people believing that we are going to use a disease of one individual, the problem that one particular individual is facing, to start applying to everybody.”
Motsoaledi said the excitement also came from even those not affected by a similar problem as Ambrosini.
He added that he had passed the issue to the Medical Control Council and would come out to the public to outline issues at hand.
“All I am saying is that it is being debated as if it has never happened before that human beings went to the MCC to ask permission for remedies that are otherwise not applicable in the country. What is new here is that it was raised in parliament, politically, not medically, by a very prominent Member of Parliament who spoke directly to the President and maybe that’s what is making people excited.”
Ambrosini, who suffers from a rare form of lung cancer, had come out to say that the National Health Insurance would not become viable unless the government allowed for alternative cancer treatment.
He claims he has benefited from a cannabis-based treatment, instead of undergoing the more conventional and expensive chemotherapy. He told a news conference in Parliament that he intended introducing a private members Bill, aimed at decriminalising dagga for medical use