A medical cannabis dispensary was launched at the Holistic Relief Wellness and Pain Management Center in Durban, South Africa last week. This will be the very first medical cannabis dispensary, not just in the country, but in the whole African continent.
The dispensary, however, will not be selling any cannabis buds. Or at least not yet. Instead, it will be selling oils, edibles, and special drink they call “Marley Coffee,” all infused with cannabis and special ayurvedic ingredients.
Patients will have to consult with a homeopath, chiropractor, or doctor at the center who can prescribe different strengths of cannabis oils. And the dispensary will provide a medicinal cannabis formula that is based on a patient’s ailments and on the prescription.
Krithi Thaver, Canna Culture founder and chairman of South Africa Cannabis Development Council KZN branch, said that the global consensus that hemp is a miracle crop is constantly growing. He said that they are very pleased to finally be offering this miracle to Durban.
Thaver explained that their treatment regimens are a combination of traditional medicinal practices in physiotherapy, chiropractics, and diseases to treat the entire body. Healers and treatment practitioners at the center are medical professionals who have rigorously researched the extensive medical applications of cannabis and who have embraced the potential benefits of the drug.
The practitioners will be scheduling only five patients at a time. And, as long as the possession of any part of the local dagga plant remains illegal, the patients will need to be referred.
Cannabis in South Africa
Cannabis, which is known locally as “dagga,” is still illegal in South Africa, be it for medical or for recreational purposes. However, in March 2017, the high court issued a ruling that rendered invalid and unconstitutional any existing law prohibiting the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis.
The ruling pertained to a case brought before the Western Cape High Court by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton. More specifically, the ruling declared that any law prohibiting the use, cultivation, and possession of cannabis by an adult in his or her private residence was invalid and unconstitutional on the grounds that it infringed on his or her constitutional right to privacy.
However, before this court decision takes effect, it still needs the Constitutional Court to confirm it. It will then be suspended for 24 months in order to allow the Parliament to enact a new law that is in accordance with it. In the meantime, prosecutions that are related transgressions of this particular ruling will be stayed.
In other words, this court order resulted to the partial and temporary decriminalization of marijuana.
What’s more, the court ruling had prompted cannabis advocates, as well as cannabis growers and producers (represented by the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa), to start pushing for legalization and legislative reform.
Read more about cannabis legislation in South Africa here.
Africa’s cannabis reform movement
South Africa is not the only African nation that has taken a progressive step towards cannabis legalization.
Last year, Lesotho became the first African nation to award an official license to cultivate cannabis for medical and scientific purposes. Lesotho’s Ministry of Health granted a regulatory approval for South African medical company Verve Dynamics to legally grow and produce medical cannabis.
Lesotho already generates around 70% of Southern Africa’s dagga.
Meanwhile, just recently, Zimbabwe legalized dagga for medical and scientific purposes.
The Zimbabwean government has published licensing guidelines (“Dangerous Drugs – Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations”) allowing the cultivation of cannabis plants for medical use and research purposes. Under these regulations, businesses and individual growers can apply for renewable five-year licenses to cultivate the plant. These licenses will also give growers the clearance to sell, possess, and transport fresh cannabis, dried marijuana products, and cannabis-infused oils.
However, the use of dagga – also called “mbanje” in Zimbabwe – for recreational purposes is still prohibited in the country.
Other African countries that are reportedly exploring ways to legalize the drug include Malawi and Ghana.