Legalising medical use of cannabis in South Africa: Is the empirical evidence sufficient to support policy shifts in this direction?
AbstractInkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini’s impassioned plea to legalise the medical use of cannabis must be understood in the context of his own condition as well as legislative changes in at least ten countries. This article argues that any decisions to shift policy must be based on a consideration of the evidence on the risks and benefits associated with the medical use of cannabis for the individual and broader society. It concludes that there are important gaps in the evidence base, particularly in human trials supporting the efficacy of cannabis use for treating and preventing medical conditions and alleviating negative symptoms associated with these conditions. South African researchers should be enabled actively to support development of the necessary evidence base by conducting preclinical and clinical research in this area. Human trials to establish the efficacy of the use of cannabis/cannabinoids in addressing AIDS wasting syndrome and other negative sequelae of HIV and AIDS are especially needed.
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