Skip to main content

Battle to stop sale of illicit medical dagga remedies

THE medicines regulator is working closely with police to clamp down on illegal sales of unregistered cannabis-containing products with claimed medical benefits but has yet to successfully prosecute any company or individual breaking the law, according to a senior official at the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra). This means businesse sare continuing to cash-in on consumer demand for medical cannabis products, despite the regulator’s efforts to bring order to the sector.

One of the most popular products is cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which proponents claim treats an array of medical conditions ranging from cancer to arthritis. The Medicines and Related Substances Act specifies that any products for which medical claims are made must be registered with Sahpra as medicines.

None of the products currently on the market is registered, and the regulator has no applications pending, said Sahpra’s head of enforcement, Griffith Molewa. This means all cannabis-containing products for which medical claims are made that are now on sale in SA are illegal, and consumers have no guarantee that they are safe and effective.

The penalty for selling unregistered medicines is a fine or a prison term of up to 10 years, he said. Sahpra is also trying to clarify the rules for products marketed as food supplements and is collaborating with the Health Department to devise guidelines for the sector, he said.

Tamar Kahn: Business Day, 23 April 2019