South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Building a healthy nation through research and innovation

Media Release

28 May 2015

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) responds to the Medical Innovation Bill

Professor Charles Parry presented the SAMRC’s stance on the Medical innovation Bill to parliament today, 27 May 2015. He said, that whilst the SAMRC acknowledges increasing evidence of the value of medical cannabis in providing palliative care for various conditions, the issue of medical cannabis should be separated from legalisation of cannabis.

The Medical Innovation Bill suggests that current legislation prevents medical practitioners from prescribing effective and harmless treatments which involve the use of cannabis, with respect to several life-threatening diseases such as cancer. The Bill proposes that, in keeping up with world standards, one or more research hospitals should be established where medical innovation can take place and ultimately effect change on the legalisation of medical, commercial and industrial use of cannabis.

Professor Parry, who is also Unit Director at the SAMRC’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit (ATODRU) provided his input to the parliamentary portfolio committee, saying that although the intensions of the bill are good, there are a number of aspects to consider. 

The SAMRC says that further clinical trials on the use of medical cannabis should be undertaken, the council furthermore recommends a Cochrane Review to evaluate the quality and strength of existing evidence for the use of cannabis for both palliative and therapeutic care.

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