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South Africa Gets Its First Cannabis Pain Patient

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Kwanda Mtetwa has become South Africa’s first legal cannabis patient – receiving the prescription to treat his chronic pain – he won’t be the last.

The first South African patient has now been prescribed medical cannabis for chronic pain. The 32-year-old activist had to obtain a special license and a doctor’s prescription. Nevertheless, once this onerous process was completed, Mtetwa became the first patient in a country that is moving even faster into the medical discussion on the way to recreational reform in just a few years hence.

Much like other countries, including Germany and Canada, it is still very hard to find doctors willing to prescribe the drug as well as work with the patient through the complicated applications and screening process.

The Blooming South African Cannabis Market

South Africa (and its surrounded “neighbour” Lesotho) are moving forward on cannabis reform with gusto. There is a large market outside the country (see Europe if not Israel and Australia). Beyond that there is of course a new domestic, formal, and regulated patient market now in process, and of course, inter African trade.

In the meantime, decriminalization of the cannabis plant for personal use is now in progress through the South African Parliament, with healthy debate on how to keep the drug out of the hands of minors also well underway. The bill would also allow caregivers to grow cannabis for medical or compassionate purposes and give it away for free – and the right to grow up to eight plants.

Cannabis has long been used as a medical and wellness plant in the region. Dagga, as cannabis is called locally, was already in widespread use by the settlement of Europeans in the mid-1600s. Use of the plant was associated with traditional African medicine. The Dutch East India company even attempted to establish a monopoly on its trade, although the widespread cultivation of the plant by indigenous peoples even then kept prices low and stymied the plan.

During this century, Interpol rated South Africa as the fourth-largest cannabis producer in the world. Most of the black-market cannabis in the UK still hails from South Africa.

The current trend in South Africa towards a modern cannabis market got underway in 2017 with a High Court ruling in Cape Town saying that the prevention of personal cultivation was a violation of constitutional rights.

For more information about emerging cannabis markets, be sure to check in with the International Cannabis Business Conference on a regular basis.

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