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Another Medical Cannabis Clinical Trial Launches in South Africa

In partnership with Releaf Cannabis E-Clinics and the Cannabis Research institute of South Africa, a clinical trial has been launched to see if medical cannabis can treat opioid addiction.

The duration of the trial will last for one year as it examines how cannabis affects a patient’s chronic pain. According to Technology for Business, results will be provided to “relevant authorities” who can use that information to regulate medical cannabis in the country.

Shiksha Gaallow will lead the trial and will work with her team. “While the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) does not yet have any official cannabis-containing medicines approved for pain relief, anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies point towards its potential to be highly effective in pain management,” Gallow said.

Chronic pain can be defined as any persistent condition that lasts more than six months. Treatments for chronic pain include opioids such as morphine, oxycodone, and codeine, which tells a patient’s opioid receptors to block pain messages sent by the body. The medication may not be effective for patients who develop tolerance. This means that the doses of medication must be increased. “Opiates are associated with many side effects, including sedation, respiratory depression—and even death,” Gallow said. “With the global increase in opiate addiction, which brings far-reaching repercussions—from ill health to broader societal issues such as crime—the research will be focused on establishing a safer alternative to treating pain.”

CRI has partnered with Releaf Pharmaceuticals in order to research cannabis and provide safer options for patients. The company’s Managing Director, Willco Janse van Vuuren, expressed their excitement for launching this study. “At Releaf Pharmaceuticals (a proud member of the ImpiloVest Group), we believe being well is a basic human right. Everything we do is focused on the three pillars of health: physical, mental, and social. We are proud to be working with Dr Shiksha Gallow and the Cannabis Research Institute of South Africa in this ground-breaking study to find natural solutions to pain management that are safe and effective,” said van Vuuren on LinkedIn.

While thousands have died from opioid addiction, evidence suggests that medical marijuana can be used to treat chronic pain. Bella Dorrington (Senior Researcher, CRI) believes that the study can help people. “This study aims to emphasize the benefits of cannabis treatment. South Africa is poised to set a standard for medicinal cannabis in the world’s market as we have the resources, technology, and people to make it happen,” Dorrington said.

In June 2022, South Africa’s first clinical trial was launched by Labat Africa and its subsidiary, Biodata, who are also working with Gallow. Referred to as the “Pharma Ethics Observational Study,” this study is also analyzing how medical cannabis can help replace opioids for chronic pain. Study participants include 1,000 people who have taken prescribed opioids at least 3 months. The cultivars Tallyman (provided via Sweetwaters Aquaponics) are also being used. Sweetwaters Aquaponics was growing 9 Pound Hammer, a strain known for high THC levels and CBG cannabinoid content.

South African researchers, like many others in the U.S.A. are studying the medical benefits of psilocybin. A study was launched in June to examine how the substance could be used for depression and HIV treatment.

South Africa is slowly becoming a destination for cannabis. A three-day marijuana festival was held in Johannesburg in July 2022. It took place in the semi-northern region of South Africa.