Press Conference
On the Introduction of the Medical Innovation Bill

Mario G.R. Oriani-Ambrosini, MP
Inkatha Freedom Party

Cape Town, February 20, 2014 


1. At this outset I wish to thank my Leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi for his support and guidance.


2. My Bill, the Medical innovation Bill, aims at harnessing benefits flowing from a change in health policy and laws with respect to the treatment of cancer and other fatal and incurable diseases.  The requested change in policy and law is based on the following three cornerstones to be brought about by means of a simple and short legislative amendment along the lines of the Private Member Bill introduced by Lord Maurice Saatchi in the British Parliament, to:


a.) allow doctors to administer innovative unproven, but harmless cancer treatments in cases where other treatments cannot provide a cure and on the basis of the patient’s informed consensus, thereby shielding doctors from both common law liability and medical profession requirements.


b.) allow the Minister of Health to authorize, establish and resource one or more pilot, innovative cancer treatment centres where doctors are allowed to act in terms of 1(a.) above.


c.) decriminalise and liberalise cannabis for medical treatment and industrial use


3. As it would be inconceivable and unconstitutional to exclude cancer patients from the benefits of a future National Health Insurance [“NHI”], unless alternative cancer treatments are allowed, we will not have an NHI or the NHI will bankrupt the country.  There is not enough money to pay for all the chemotherapy which will be prescribed even though the curative or even ameliorative effects of chemotherapy have been severely questioned.


4. On November 20, 2013 the South African National Working Group presented to the Minister of Welfare and published its Cannabis Position Paper which recommends the legalisation of cannabis on the basis of a survey of worldwide research proving that the cannabinoids present in the resin of the flowering cannabis plant in their active constituent forms such as THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), CBG (Cannabigerol), and CBC (Cannabichromene), are beneficial for numerous medical purposes, inter alia, having curative and analgesic effects in cancer treatment, with no harmful side effect.


5. Medical travel for cancer and other treatments not permitted elsewhere has been a major source of national income for countries such as Mexico or Thailand.  South Africa is better positioned and equipped to seize this opportunity on account of both its history with heart transplants and the good quality and affordable rates of its doctors and private health facilities. Our country would be viewed as an innovative world leader in cancer treatment and cures.  This item ought to be identified and added to the IPAP.


6. South Africa should benefit from the legalised trade of cannabis which is a product of the future.  Our soils are suited for its industrial production and we have the required skills.  It is a labour intensive crop.  The Chinese government is making massive investments in this field as cannabis is a portentous basis for fabrics, biomass, oils, feeding stock and other products. Additional economic benefits flowing from the legalisation of cannabis are evidenced by Colorado, where government expects to collect nearly 70 million dollars in tax from the legalised and regulated sale of cannabis.


7. The matter is urgent as hundreds of thousands are suffering and dying.  Any delay and hesitation by our government to move forward with this, drips of their blood and tears, our blood and tears.


8. The newly formed Cancer Treatment Campaign, represented today by Adv. Stransham-Ford will hold on its intended constitutional litigation, challenging extant legislation on cannabis as violating our right to health as well as personal freedoms and religious liberties.  The country and the suffering people of South Africa do not need another TAC-type litigation.


9. The Novartis case in the Indian Constitutional Court is a sign of the growing solidarity between BRICS members in an attempt to reduce “Big Pharma’s” stranglehold over the treatment of cancer through patent laws. The Indian court’s decision to reject the pharmaceutical giant’s patent claim over its drug Gleevec reflected the principle of Health over Wealth.


Additionally, The recently introduced IP Policy Bill in South African Parliament as well as a similar Bill tabled in the Brazilian Parliament reflects the movement away from stifling IP laws towards the permissions granted by TRIPS to provide low-cost generic alternatives.


10. Chemotherapy has been proven to be statistically harmful and ineffective in 97% of cancer treatment cases worldwide.  Approximately 10 million people die every year from cancer.  One person in 2.8 is bound to have cancer in their lifetime and this figure is rapidly growing. Chemotherapy or radiation treatments cost a patient, their insurance or government between US$ 50 000 and 100 000.  The cancer pandemic is the single largest social and economic cost to industry, to family and to our economy.  Addressing it will give South Africa a worldwide competitive advantage.


11. Cancer can be cured.  It is not cured because of bad laws and policies and maintained and lobbied for by vested economic potentates. This is a crime against humanity, and indeed, to use Minister Motsoaledi’s words, genocide.  The US government has knowingly patented cannabis-based cancer cures which could save millions of lives to prevent their use in the US and abroad.


12. There is a growing global trend towards the decriminalisation of cannabis use by private individuals as well as the recognition of the crop’s potential economic contribution, especially in a low-tech economy such as South Africa’s.


13. Our jails are overflowing with inmates held under unconstitutional conditions. The Department of Correctional Services [“DCS”] is not coping and cannot cope.  It is just a matter of time before constitutional litigation will force the release of prisoners who cannot be jailed under the standards demanded by our Constitution. It is absurd to keep cannabis users in jail in place of murderers and rapists. South Africa has the ninth largest population of incarcerated persons in the world and the DCS budget has been increased by over R 1 billion year on year from 17,7 for 2012/2013 to 18,748 billion for 2013/2014. South Africa leads the continent with these uncomplimentary figures.


14. For once let us be leaders not followers.  The following countries have decriminalised cannabis and the extent to which cannabis has been decriminalised in each:


• Argentina: legalised for small amounts and use in private. Consumption for medical purposes is accepted but not legislated.

• Australia: decriminalised for small amounts use in some states.

• Belgium:  legalised for small amounts and use in private.

• Brazil: acceptable albeit not technically decriminalised for small amounts possession.

• Canada: legalised for medicinal and industrial use through government-issued permit; therefore possession and sale of cannabis is regulated by the state.

• Czech Republic: legalised for medicinal use with a government-issued permit.

• India: possession, sale and cultivation is decriminalised and is regulated by government albeit is technically illegal.

• Iran: Fully legalised if possession, sale and cultivation is regulated by government, illegal if it is not.

• Italy: licensed cultivation is strictly regulated by government; otherwise private use is decriminalised for small quantities for personal use.

• Jamaica: House of Representatives has motioned to decriminalise cannabis altogether, otherwise it is tentatively decriminalised.

• Mexico: personal use has been decriminalised but cultivation and sale is illegal.

• Netherlands: completely decriminalised but tentatively legalised in Amsterdam only.

• Spain: decriminalised personal use. Completely legalised for personal cultivation on a private property.

• Switzerland: decriminalised personal use. Completely legalised for personal cultivation on private property.

• USA: Illegal at the federal level but legal at the state level in Colorado and Washington and decriminalized in 20 other states.  The US AG has given instruction to no longer enforce federal laws on cannabis use and President Obama has declared that cannabis for recreation use is no more harmful than alcohol.

• Uruguay: Use, sale, cultivation and transportation of cannabis is completely legal as of 10/12/2013. The first country in the world to do so.




Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, MP on 082556 0240 or
Adv. Anthony Mitchell on 0769437106