Only 56 people in South Africa have been granted special dispensation to import and use medicines containing cannabis. That is according to the the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) .

The organisation said everyone else who sells and uses medicines containing dagga or its derivatives are doing so illegally.

“Suppliers and users of such illegal products are exposing themselves and others to legal and health risks as the safety, efficacy and quality of these products cannot be assured,” said Saphra.

Saphra remarked that it knows that “a number of outlets and individuals” are selling products that contain marijuana, or oil from the plant, or derivatives such as tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabidiol for medicinal use.

” The 56 licensed individuals are using their imported medicine under section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, which provides a process to import medicines not licensed in South Africa, as long as such use is motivated for the individual patient by an authorised prescriber.

“Ideally such medicines are registered for use in the US, Australia, Canada, or Europe. We have inspected 16 applicants for licences that would allow them to grow cannabis for medicinal use. Sahpra it is taking a developmental approach.”