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South Africa approves first legal cannabis pharmacy

Medical experts inspecting Cannabis plants. [Source: The Citizen, South Africa]

South Africa has given the green light for the operation of the first legal cannabis pharmacy within its boundaries.

This unmatched launch follows the Decriminalisation of cannabis in South Africa in 2018.

According to a report by The Sunday Times, THC Pharmacy is South Africa’s first legal cannabis pharmacy.

The pharmacy supplies card-carrying medicinal cannabis users and is registered with the South African Pharmacy Council and the health department.

According to THC Africa CEO Kyle Brocklebank, the pharmacy is located in Glenanda, Johannesburg.

It supplies two others, CBD Hub in Meyerton, Gauteng, and CBD Emporium in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal.

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 3kg of the dried medical flowers. It is slow because each card only allows for 120g per person a month, which is 4g a day for 30 days. We’re aiming for around 500 card-carrying members, where we will see around 30kg-50kg of product sold per month,” Brocklebank said. 

To obtain a license, the pharmacy underwent various quality checks with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. After the controls, the license issued allows the cultivation of cannabis, but only for medicinal purposes.

Brocklebank added that “There are a number of sections that you have to deal with. There are CIPRAs, medical boards, health departments, licensing and pharma accounts you need to open. You have to go through certification services. It is a very tedious process. It will take at least two to three years to get close to that. “

“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.

THC Pharmacy works with professor Benny de Beer, whose cannabis company CBD Full Focus is involved in research & 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. He said those wanting to use cannabis medicinally had to meet the requirements of the Medicines & 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 the 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 over 1billion (SA Rand).