KWAZULU NATAL PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
NFP MOTION FOR DEBATE AND APPEAL TO THE KWAZULU NATAL DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND HEALTH TO DEVELOP SUPPORT MECHANISMS WHICH WILL ASSIST IN REGULATING CANNABIS GROWTH AND CULTIVATION IN THE PROVINCE
Hon Mrs Madlopha-Mthethwa, MPL
I rise and take to this podium today in tribute to a comrade, a great legislator, legal mind and extraordinary member of parliament for the Inkatha Freedom Party and South Africa, the late Dr Mario Gaspare Oriani-Ambrosini, MP.
Dr Ambrosini’s journey into medical innovation with cannabis began in May of 2013, when he was diagnosed by his physicians with stage 4 lung cancer.
He was advised by his doctors that by western medical standards and protocols, all hope was lost, that this was a terminal condition, and offered comfort only in the various forms of palliative care that were available at the time.
As those of you who knew the man, Dr Ambrosini was not one to quietly accept this fate. He started to question, to research and to investigate alternative forms of cancer treatment protocols. As he stated on many occasions, this was not a fight that he had gone looking for; it was a fight that had found him.
His research led him to look into various innovative and cost effective treatments, many of them though being unable to be administered by medical doctors in South Africa, as they were at that stage unlawful.
Dr Ambrosini was not only searching for his own cure but also for a cure that would easily accessible, affordable and effective for all South Africans.
At the time and even today, we heard the much shouted calls by the governing party for “Radical Economic Transformation”, but they provided no solutions!
Well this was one such solution Chairperson, and it was the introduction of the Medical Innovation Bill which Dr Ambrosini introduced in Parliament in February 2014.
The Bill was about innovative medicine, it was about providing a platform for ongoing research into new medicine and it was about the commercialization of hemp, to allow for hemp farming in South Africa.
So you see chairperson, over 4 years ago the IFP was already championing this issue nationally, before parliament.
Needless to say, the draft Bill received unanimous support from the all IFP members most notably being that of His Excellency, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP.
In Dr Ambrosini’s own words to the National Assembly at the time, and in his plea directly to former President Zuma, he stated:
“I am here today not to oppose you, but to plea with you [President Zuma] to provide a voice to the many people who are in my condition, who do not have a voice. Cancer is the greatest pandemic this country is facing. People are dying because of bad policies and because of bad laws which we can change. There are available cancer treatments which are not made available from a legal viewpoint and I stand here as the expression of that problem.”
Dr Ambrosini went on in his plea to the President to state that it would be “Crime against Humanity” not to allow the provision of innovative treatment protocols such as the provision of medical cannabis not to be allowed to our people.
In respect of the commercialization of hemp Dr Ambrosini further stated,
“This [is also] an enormous opportunity for the country for the cultivation of Hemp in terms of commercial and industrial purposes. The Chinese government is making huge investments on hemp as a fabric and as a construction material. We need to turn the page here in South Africa…”
Dr Ambrosini sadly passed away in August of 2014, but his work was continued by the IFP’s Hon. Narend Singh, MP and Adv. Anthony Mitchell.
The result being that on the 6th November 2017, South Africans could apply to The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for licence to grow, cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis; Medicinal Cannabis was now legally regulated and available to all South Africans.
Chairperson, the IFP did not then rest on its laurels, and even today we continue to champion the fight for the industrialization of commercial hemp which debate is now once again, thanks to Hon Singh and the IFP in Parliament, being proactively pushed and plans are already underway by the Departments of Trade and Industry and Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries to create a commercial hemp industry in South Africa.
In conclusion let me state that as the IFP we unreservedly support access to medicinal cannabis for those in need, as well as the immediate deregulation and commercialization of the hemp in South Africa.
I thank you.