The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) yesterday refuted claims by the Black Farmers’ Association of SA and its president that Sahpra had a bias towards whites.
“The allegation the Sahpra board chair, Prof Helen Rees, and CEO Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, are issuing medicinal cannabis licences to affluent white people on the directive of Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize is far from the truth,” Semete-Makokotlela said.
“Sahpra denies this flawed allegation.“The process to obtain a license from Sahpra to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes is a rigorous one.”
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Semete-Makokotlela said cultivation of dagga for medicinal purposes required strict control as SA was a signatory to international treaties prohibiting the production and supply of narcotic and psychotropic drugs.
“Sahpra recognises there is an ongoing global dialogue around the use of cannabis for both medicinal and non-medicinal purposes.
“In South Africa, the regulation of current and possible future uses of cannabis involves many stakeholders, including Sahpra and the departments of health; agriculture, land reform and rural development; trade, industry and competition; the SA Police Service; and the legislature to name a few.”
Semete-Makokotlela noted the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, together with other departments and entities, were developing the cannabis master plan, which will provide a roadmap for the industry.
Raadia Khan, founding member of the African Cannabis Industry Association, said the march to Saphra was a call for all to claim their rights to dagga.
“We will attend the march because they want to change the context of cannabis business to be conducted in the interests of indigenous ownership rights, which have to be rectified after the prejudice of prohibition through truth and reconciliation over segregation; economic recovery through mutual benefits; and bridging of sustainability and societal gaps,” Khan said.
Khan invited the local cannabis community, growers and the industry at large to participate in taking dagga mainstream.
“We strive towards economic development, skills, job creation, growing the gross domestic product within our communities,” Khan said.