The Fetid Stench of Ignorance in Parliament

By |Published On: June 2nd, 2015|

medicalmarijuanaThe Medical Innovation Bill (more info) has been trundling through parliament, with the IFP keeping it alive since the death of its author, Dr Mario Ambrosini. On Wednesday 27 May the bill was up for discussion again.This time the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health invited the Medical Research Council (MRC) to provide input on the Bill by way of a presentation. Various other interested parties also gave input but it is not clear to us who invited who and to what end.

Here are the recordings, transcripts and background on some of the speakers as we received them:

12Dr Lochan Naidoo is the president of the International Narcotics Control Board and seems to be heading up the argument against Cannabis during the meeting. He is a rehab expert and we have always known that the biggest opposition to legal Cannabis comes from religious groups and rehabs. It is beyond frustrating that someone with Dr Naidoo’s credentials / education can have their heads so far in the sand. He had a clear agenda to discredit the benefits of Cannabis medicine, particularly for use in pain management. A quick google of him reveals his involvements with opiates. He was a Member of the Opiate Advisory Board of South Africa (2006-2008). And he had the audacity to correct the MRC for saying that opiates are addictive, telling the committee that opiates are not addictive.

Follow Fields of Green for ALL for news of our involvement in the UNGASS 2016 conference. Dr Naidoo, Uruguay and some states in the USA are ignoring your controls and the UN conventions when it comes to Cannabis. Your propaganda will be exposed for what it is.

Lochan Naidoo 2


“Here is just one thing I wanted to clarify. I think earlier one of our colleagues from the MRC (Medical Research Council) did mention that opiates for pain is addictive. That is not true. Opiates are not addictive when used in authentic pain.” 

“We term this the Medical Innovation Bill yet it extends its mandate as our colleagues have said to include commercial and industrial applications without defining these applications. It is clearly focussed on cannibal Cannabis legalisation which is in contravention of the definitions of the United Nations 1961 convention as amended by the 1972 protocol with South Africa has signed and which restricts Cannabis to medical and scientific purposes with article 28, which is the establishment of a National Cannabis Agency that becomes a central which becomes a central repository of Cannabis that may be offered for manufacture and production and scientific use for Cannabinoid products or products from the Cannabis plant. Countries developing such agencies must exceed to the system of estimates as per the United Nations drug conventions”.
Dr Lochan Naidoo. Director, Jullo Foundation.



Dr Anban Pillay is the Deputy Director General of the Dept of Health and he is certain that growing Cannabis is unsustainable so he explains how Cannabis medicine will be made.




Dr Anban Pillay


“The other question that was asked here if I can just answer is around how do you get from plants to medicine in terms of production. So in most cases, research that’s done identifies the active ingredient in the plant but once you’ve identified the active ingredient it’s usually not economical to keep growing the plants in order to extract the active ingredient. Scientists then sit in the lab and look at the molecular structure of that compound and say ‘what are the potential receptors, how can we synthetically make the same product’ so that is what will happen to synthetic products – so then they said OK, we can produce this, this would be the chemical sister to produce this and then they go about doing it but many products were discovered in plants but you don’t then keep growing plants in order to make the products because economically it doesn’t make sense to actually do that.”  

Dr Anban Pillay (DDG of the Department of Health)




Prof Willie Pienaar is a Professor in the Dept of Psychiatry at Stellenbosch University. It seems that various psychiatrists were given short notice of the meeting but Professor Pienaar clearly knows nothing about Cannabis.
Should experts like this be called to testify in court it would make for very good TV.

Prof Willie Pienaar


A little bit of background about Cannabis. In psychiatry, I’m a psychiatrist, I’m a psychiatrist. Yes it is addictive, no two things about it, dependency does develop. It is not as addictive as heroin, it is not as addictive as cocaine, but it is addictive and people will steal and rape to get that effect again. It is addictive they would do a lot of things, any action to secure a supply, so this is an addictive drug. It gives you intoxication, it gives you withdrawal, it gives you psychosis – and I’ll say something on psychosis, it gives you anxiety attacks, it gives you flash backs where non smoking and then suddenly you will feel as if you had Cannabis again.”     – Prof Willie Pienaar.




ANC MP Nonhlanhla Ndaba is a member of the Porfolio Committee on Health. She is very forthright with her opinion and seriously lacking in the homework department. Is this for real or is it a lame way of making light of a very serious subject? As one seasoned political activist put it “The main challenge is to change consciousness and in the process, expose the general sterility, social backwardness and politically/economically retrogressiveness of the anti-Cannabis approach/mind-set.”

Nonhlanhla Ndaba


I still believe that dagga can not cure cancer. Whether you say Cannabis or whatever, but it’s dagga. It can not cure cancer. But chair, I think I agree in terms of pain management because obviously chair, any substance that  you use, you know, it makes you like, er, (?) of some sort so you can’t feel pain. Chair, with experience that I have of people that are smoking dagga I don’t think chair there is any stage where I will agree that we can legislate such a Bill because chair if the professor can just do us a favour – take people who have been smoking dagga chairperson, you know in our language there is something that grows under the feet of those people and we call it impesha, I don’t know in English – but we call it impesha. So if that on its own it tells you that ntsangu has an impact and others it has an an effect to a human body. I’m not convinced chairperson that in terms of pain management and also chair, you know it confuses. You know if this Bill was talking of medicine only I’m sure I was going to think, you know, especially at some of the things the professor is presented in terms of eh eh eh err, the experience from other other other countries but the mere fact that it wants to commercialise and industrialise dagga chairperson, I cannot agree on that one. You know chairperson, there are many people that are smoking it, and they are smoking it illegally and you know what happens after they smoked dagga”.

ANC MP Nonhlanhla Ndaba (Health Portfolio Committee) [email protected]


Another ANC MP, Patrick Maesela, provided a critical response to Dr Naidoo’s slide of a SPECT scan of the brain after using Cannabis: “We need to make sure there are no holes in anybody’s brain”. The laughter that ensued is fitting only for the ignorance displayed by someone who takes such farcical displays of “science” seriously. Top neuroscientists around the world have published countless peer-reviewed studies on the subject and our public representatives are sucking up the propaganda and keeping themselves in the dark ages.

Patrick Maesela


Honourable indaba, thank you for enlightening us about those holes. (Presentation slide of brain scan of Cannabis user). Now I think the best or the most important battle is to make sure that there are no holes in anybody’s brains (Laughter) and that is a task and half to make sure that you don’t have these holes because if you keep on filling them and then they become bigger instead of becoming smaller then it a serious serious problem. So it goes without saying for the love of our country and our children we should really do something about it and not what we did with AIDS which became a bigger problem. So this one we must prevent from happening. If it is happening we must try to squash it before it becomes a real real problem and maybe this is just a beginning because after this they will be having cocaine, they will be having heroin, and they’ll be having all sorts of things because this other one will now tame, it will not give them that high and the hole becomes bigger and bigger, close it with a bigger shot. I’m scared to think about that we couldn’t even do something that is do-able. Now If we have a bigger one and we treat it ourselves maybe through neglect or maybe through some sleigh of the hand type of thing why people come, you know, in way of the (Greek?) who come bearing presents then we are creating a bigger problem for the nation. I 100% support what you are saying that tell us be aware of the Trojan horses and not allow them even near because they were made through war and they were meant to win the war for the enemy so we should not accept that. Thank you.
ANC MP Dr Patrick Maesela.



7singhThere is a small voice of reason to be heard here as Narend Singh, IFP MP tries to bring the subject back on to a more rational level. We applaud you Mr Singh but where do we even start to deal with the ignorance?







Narend Singh

I wonder whether the good doctors at some stage can say lets ban cough syrups in South Africa because it’s addictive and ban benzene because people smoke benzene. Lets ban petrol because young people and glue because they sniff glue and do all sorts of things we see that but also I wouldn’t like to leave this meeting with a misconception that the prime mover of this Bill was the honourable Dr Ambrosini was under any influence by anybody when he put this Bill on the table. He had a personal circumstance, he suffered from cancer, we know what he went through and it is because of his own research that gave rise to this Bill. Whether we agree with the contents of this Bill and amended or whatever is another matter for the committee to deal with but I would like that misconception to be cleared here and  now. Thank You.  IFP MP Narend Singh.






The ever cautious Dr Charles Parry of the MRC rounds off our sound bites with a small dig at others in the room. The MRC is, of course, very keen to be involved in Medical Cannabis Research and rightly so. Some acknowledgement of international experts working in this field would be welcome at this stage as the MRC’s somewhat tired “more research needs to be done” needs to be put into an international context so that research done in South Africa is given a local focus and value.


Dr Charles Parry


“We ought to look at the issue of supply and regulation. We need to provide consistent high quality Cannabis leaf and you can’t imagine how many people have been emailing me saying if South Africa moves forward on this issue, how can I get in on this business, and I’ve kept them all. Do we import it from other countries in order to not increase production in South Africa? Should the Department of Health get into the business, Dr Pillay, on producing Cannabis or should we license, or should there be a licence to South African companies to cultivate and produce in compliance with clear standards and be subject to strict quality control under the Department of Health. So, that would probably be the preferred method if, and I say if the decision to support medical Cannabis goes ahead. Particularly as we’ve heard that the, my colleague is not keen to get into the business of growing Cannabis”. Prof. Charles Parry. Medical research Council



These MPs and so-called “experts” are dealing with a matter of grave public concern and so the logical step would be to look at the media’s reporting on the day’s events. These two headlines demonstrate the way that the subject continues to be both simplified and polarized at the same time.
Eye Witness News has a somewhat positive but wishy-washy report, using the old lemon of “more research needs to be done”.
Read it Here

The Sowetan (and others) just blows the whole thing out of the water with their headline “Experts and MPs Reject Dagga Bill.” This gives the impression that the Bill is dead in the water, which it is not. The “vote of desirability” is still to come but many readers believe what they read, don’t they?
Read it Here

The time has come to take the gloves off. We need to be more vociferous in our opposition to ignorance by exposing our public representatives’ lack of understanding and basic knowledge surrounding the vast and complicated subject that is Cannabis Prohibition. All this talk about medicine and science leads us to conclude with a very important question that MUST be asked over and over again:

Where is the science that tells us that it is a good thing to lock people up in jail and ruin their lives because of their relationship with this plant?


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