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South Africa’s first legal medicinal cannabis pharmacy is open for business

Medical marijuana has gone mainstream, with three cannabis pharmacies opening in South Africa this month – complete with an online doctor and chef – writes Alex Patrick for the Sunday Times.

THC Pharmacy, SA’s first legal cannabis pharmacy, supplies card-carrying medicinal cannabis users and is registered with the South African Pharmacy Council and the National Department of Health.

THC Africa CEO Kyle Brocklebank said the pharmacy in Glenanda in Johannesburg supplies two others, CBD Hub in Meyerton in Gauteng and CBD Emporium in Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal. They opened this month, according to the Sunday Times article published on 10 April 2022.

The doctor assists with applying for medical cards, while a chef shows users how to use the herb in cooking.

So far the pharmacy has sold more than three kilograms of dried medical flower. “It’s slow because each card only allows for 120g per person a month, which is 4g a day for 30 days,” Brocklebank said.

“We’re aiming for around 500 card-carrying members, where we will see around 30kg to 50kg of product sold per month.”

He said the pharmacy's educational section advised customers how to become legal medicinal cannabis users, the Sunday Times reported further.

“The patient then sees a doctor who listens to their ailments and prescribes cannabis with specific doses of CBD [cannabidiol] and THC [tetrahydrocannabinol].” CBD contains no psychoactive chemicals and is freely available, but the use of THC is tightly controlled.

Brocklebank's customers fill out a document to be given to South African Health Product Regulatory Authority(Sahpra), which is responsible for issuing the cards permitting medicinal THC use.

The card has the details of the user, the amount they can use and the preferred strain.

“This space is an educational platform providing assistance for people who may be unsure of how to use cannabis. We are here to remove the stigma of ‘dagga’,” Brocklebank said.
THC Pharmacy works with Professor Benny de  Beer, whose cannabis company CBD Full Focus is involved in research and development and education.

De Beer was among the first people in SA to obtain a licence to cultivate cannabis after the government began easing restrictions on the plant. According to the Sunday Times, he said those wanting to use cannabis medicinally had to meet the requirements of the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965.

“That is the approval Sahpra needs to give in order to use cannabis. We tie the whole process together by helping with the application and then selling regulated product,” De Beer said.

He said 60 new patients signed up for medical cards this week alone. More than 100 pharmacies were planned, and their sales could generate R1bn a month in tax revenue for the government, he added.

Sahpra spokesperson Yuven Gounden told the Sunday Times that the crops and laboratories of licensed suppliers were inspected, evaluated and monitored to ensure they were of high quality and safe.

Cannabis is a Schedule 7 drug, which means it can only be used medicinally with a permit card from Sahpra, but the regulatory body says consideration is being given to changing this categorisation.

Janet O'Donoghue of the South African Cannabis Community and Regulation Authority, a group that lobbies for “free and fair access to responsible use of cannabis for all”, dismissed Brocklebank's venture as “part of the monopolisation of cannabis”.

“We don’t support it. The whole country can be liberated and poverty obliterated if we allow free and fair access to the legal, safe and responsible use of the cannabis plant for all.”

A Constitutional Court ruling in 2018 paved the way for limited, private use of recreational cannabis, the Sunday Timesreported.

Cannabis is used to treat ailments including spasticity symptoms in multiple sclerosis patients and anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with Aids. It can also be used for  chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting; some forms of epilepsy; depression and anxiety; and pain management.

See the link below for the full Sunday Times story.

 

Sunday Times story – SA’s first legal medicinal cannabis pharmacy is open for business (Open access)

 

See also from the MedicalBrief archives

 

Dosing, administering medical cannabis for chronic pain – Recommendations

 

Biodata: First SA approval of trial investigating medical cannabis in management of chronic pain

 

Medical cannabis – SA’s high hopes of a cash cow that blunts pain

 

Patients hopeful for France's medical cannabis experiment

 

Doctors still reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis – Canadian study

 

 

 

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