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Canadian Cannabis for SA Patients? You Gotta Be Kidding! What’s Wrong with Our Own? SAHPRA Hits the Mute Button as New Controversy Blows Up in its Face

Canadian cannabis is to be prescribed to South African patients under a new initiative that apparently has the backing of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

 

GODH silent on SA partner but directs queries here

In an astounding development in the South African cannabis reform process, it appears that SAHPRA has favoured foreign suppliers of cannabis over local licensed grow operations as the fledgling local medical marijuana industry makes its first moves to get off the ground.

The Cannabis Clinics initiative appears to be legally sound and similar to that launched by Vaal Triangle cannabis entrepreneur Professor Benny de Beer, who has established a Section 21 company to assist doctors and patients getting together in the cannabis space. It’s slick website has anonymous patient testimonials but is scant on hard fact.

 

Connecting the dagga dots

Cannabiz Africa has established that:

  • The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (GODH), a listed Canadian cannabis company, is sending dried medicinal cannabis flower to South Africa; claiming to have SAHPRA approval 
  • The intended local user is an initiative called Cannabis Clinics. Their website does not reveal who is behind the entity, but it does have SAHPRA’s logo and says it is operating in association with Canadian Cannabis Clinics;

 

Seperations’ Jeff Verlinden has taken the issue up on behalf of the local cannabis industry and has asked SAHPRA to confirm whether Cannabis Clinics is the local recipient of Canadian flower. The biopharmacist told Cannabiz Africa that SAHPRA says it is “investigating” the issue.

Verlinden had contacted GODH directly with an inquiry as to where its products could be purchased in South Africa. GODH’s Growth Development Officer, Gayle Duncan responded:

“Interested parties can go to www.cannabisclinics.co.za. If they are eligible, a doctor will consider prescribing to that patient so they can find out what works best”.

 

Meanwhile SAHPRA hides behind a curtain of silence

Cannabiz Africa requested an interview with Cannabis Clinics via their website contact form on 15 September 2021. It has not yet had a response. 

 SAHPRA, meanwhile, has gone shtum and embarked on three weeks of media silence on an issue which goes to the heart of developing a local medicinal cannabis market.

 

Cannabiz Africa sent the following mail to SAHPRA on 26 August 2021:

“Please can you confirm that SAHPRA has given its approval for the import of cannabis flower to SA from Canadian company Green Organic Dutchman Holdings as per their statement of 25 August 2021.

If so, who is the local partner who has been awarded the license and exactly what for?

I’m confused as I thought the law allows only for doctors to prescribe medical cannabis after exhausting other alternatives and I don’t see how the import of Canadian cannabis can be done through any entity other than a Section 21 company. Please explain how the distribution will be regulated.

It is also strange that we are importing cannabis from Canada. Surely there is a local licensed operator who could be supply flower for domestic medical needs? Why is SAHPRA licensing imports of product that we can cultivate ourselves?

I hope you can help me with these queries or direct me in the right direction in SAHPRA. I’d appreciate your response as soon as possible.

Many thanks,

Brett”

 

Cannabis stakeholders unhappy

SAHPRA acknowledged receipt of the mail and said “the team” would respond, but as of 13 September 2021, no response had yet been forthcoming.

Cannabiz Africa also understands that the GODHS issue was raised at a virtual meeting between SAHPRA and about 70 stakeholders representing licensed grow operations on 31 August 2021. Several participants voiced their disquiet over the Canadian import deal and SAHPRA representatives apparently noted their concerns.

 

Canada has a 1 m ton cannabis surplus; is it trying to dump its problem on SA?

An industry insider who did not want to be named, said that the development was alarming in that Canada was sitting on a huge stockpile of cannabis and may be trying to dump its surplus onto other countries, and that SA was an easy hit.

According to MJBizDaily, Canada is sitting on bursting legal cannabis inventories and has resorted to destroying finished product to try and bring down the glut.  As of the end of 2020, roughly 1,1 million tons of dried cannabis were sitting in inventories of federal license holders, provincial wholesalers and retailers. Roughly 500 tons of unpackaged dried cannabis was destroyed by licensed producers between 2018 and 2020, according to the data provided to MJBizDaily by Health Canada, the federal body tasked with regulating cannabis production in the country. 

“It would be a huge irony if SA was being muscled into buying cheap Canadian cannabis under the pretext of some international co-operation agreement” said Cannabiz Africa’s source. “How SAHPRA can be agreeing to this without seeing the bigger picture is simply mind-boggling. It is a compliance body that has stumbled into a political arena and it is clearly out of its depth. SAHPRA needs to be rescued from itself. It’s even more alarming that their officials haven’t been able to clarify exactly what’s going on with this Canada story three weeks after the issue was raised with them.”

2 Responses

  1. The green organic dutchman is certified organic company. This isn’t some ordinary company. Huge demand for organic and the time it takes to be approved.

    Also they have a hard time keeping up with the demand over here. SA picked the right company to do business with

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