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Section 21 Application

Currently the only way patients may legally access medical-grade cannabis is through a process known as a Section 21 application. 

A number of regulated markets currently allow for the manufacture and prescription of cannabis medicines. Currently the only way in which a qualifying patient is able to access cannabis medicines in South Africa is through importation after it has been prescribed by a doctor, who is able to make an application on the patient’s behalf.

Doctor Prescribes

As a potential patient, consult with your doctor to determine your eligibility for medicinal cannabis. If eligible the doctor completes your prescription, outlining the number of milligrams per day and the prescription duration, together with your informed consent.

Doctors are able to prescribe and access imported cannabis medicines for their patients on a named patient basis.

Access medicinal cannabis with IntroCann

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Journey to access medicinal cannabis

Register on our website

Either visit your doctor in person or using a telemedicine link, or visit a prescribing doctor who specialises in cannabiniod therapy

Once the completed prescription, informed consent and the application fee payment of R350 (R60 per month) are received, then the process of obtaining approval can begin

Once the Section 21 is approved, the Patient will be contacted to place the order per the doctor’s prescription. You can simply order and pay online, and have your medicine delivered to your door.

Journey to access medical cannabis

Does your doctor need assistance?

Your doctor can find assistance regarding these applications via the IntroCann portal.

How to talk to your doctor about medicinal cannabis

Our Recommendations

Have you considered talking to your doctor about medicinal cannabis?  This can be a daunting prospect, so here are some tips to assist with opening up the conversation.

When approaching your doctor about medicinal cannabis, always be honest and prepared for an open and informed discussion. If you know of any people benefiting from medicinal cannabis, let them be your success story. 

Don’t worry if your doctor says that he/she has insufficient information pertaining to medicinal cannabis, or if he/she does not feel comfortable or is dismissive.  

The key to a successful start with mediccinal cannabis is to ‘Start Low, and Go Slow’. Documenting your experience with cannabis may also be beneficial. 

We can provide your doctor with an easy to use journal that will help doctor and patient to monitor the use and effects of medicinal cannabis.

Information for your Doctor

A summary of medicinal cannabis information for your Doctor. Download and print this document to take to your doctor during your next consultation to introduce him/her to medicinal cannabis.
Find a prescribing clinic or doctor
Patient FAQs
What is medicinal cannabis?
Cannabis describes all plants of the genus Cannabis, encompassing dried flowers, leaves, seeds, extracts and resins. ‘Medicinal cannabis’ refers to the range of legal, approved and quality assured cannabis preparations intended for human therapeutic use. This includes pharmaceutical cannabis preparations such as oils, vapes, tinctures, capsules and other extracts. Medicinal cannabis contains specific active components in known amounts, which can be carefully controlled, standardised and administered for patient use.
What does medicinal cannabis treat?
Medicinal Cannabis has been used to treat a number of different symptoms and conditions, including Chronic Pain, Nausea and Vomiting, Multiple Sclerosis, Wasting Syndrome/Loss of Appetite, Seizure Disorders, Fibromyalgia, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Arthritis, Anxiety and Depression, Glaucoma, Chronic neuropathic pain that impacts daily activity or impairs mobility, mood disorders such as anxiety, which are common in patients with chronic pain, sleep disturbances and clinical insomnia, made worse by pain and anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe medicinal cannabis to relieve symptoms associated with a variety of conditions that have not responded to conventional medicine.
How is medicinal cannabis taken?
Medicinal cannabis can be taken in a variety of ways. These include:- Oral - using a spray, oil drops or capsules; Vaporisation – using a medical device that heats the cannabis flowers or oils to release cannabinoids into an inhalation; and Topical – patches, gels or creams, all applied to the outer skin surface.
How quickly should I feel the effects of medicinal cannabis?
Vaporization results in rapid absorption into the body, with first effects occurring typically within 90 seconds, reaching a peak after 15-30 minutes, and lasting 2-4 hours. This method is best used where a rapid onset of action is desired. Oral preparations/sprays are absorbed more slowly and take around 30-90 minutes to take effect. Peak effects occur after 2-4 hours and can last for up to 8 eight hours.
How will I know if medicinal cannabis is working?
You will notice an improvement in your quality of life and symptoms.
Does medicinal cannabis have an expiry date?
Medicinal cannabis products will commonly specify a packaged date, but will state that no expiry date has been determined, so what does this mean? In short, cannabis can expire but it is more complex than this. A number of factors influence the longevity of your medicine, but one of the most significant are storage conditions. This includes container/package quality and light exposure. A glass container is preferred, but most importantly it must block light and seal effectively to avoid air movement; a humidity pack in your jar will also regulate humidity and moisture. Storing your medicine in a dark and cool location prevents light exposure which degrades THC and terpenes. With this, your medicine will last 12 to 24 months from the packaged date. When your cannabis does start to degrade, the biggest indicator is the loss of smell, signaling the loss of terpenes.
Is using medicinal cannabis legal in South Africa?
Yes, medicinal cannabis is a legal treatment in South Africa.
Are medicinal cannabis products quality controlled?
The Regulatory Authority has established quality standards for medicine, including medicinal cannabis products, and all companies who import, manufacture and supply medical cannabis products in South Africa are required to comply.
How much does medicinal cannabis cost in South Africa?
The cost of medicinal cannabis products can vary currently from R70 to R200 per patient per day, depending on the nature of the condition being treated, the product(s) required, and the dosage of the required product(s). Medicinal cannabis products are not currently reimbursed by medical aid schemes.
How can you access medicinal cannabis in South Africa?
Medicinal cannabis can only be prescribed by a doctor. If he/she decides medicinal cannabis therapy is appropriate, then your doctor will apply to SAHPRA for approval. Medicinal cannabis products are not registered medicines in South Africa and can only be accessed through a section 21 approval process, provided they are in medical use internationally.
How long does SAHPRA approval take?
If all required information has been submitted, the SAHPRA approval process may be complete within 3-4 business days. This turnaround time has been indicated on their website.
What if my doctor won't prescribe medicinal cannabis but I still want to try it?
Speak to your doctor about why you’re seeking treatment with medicinal cannabis and whether it is appropriate for you and your condition. Medicinal cannabis may not work for everyone. If your doctor isn’t familiar with the process of prescribing medicinal cannabis and would like to talk to another health professional, IntroCann can introduce a doctor or clinic that specializes in cannabiniod therapy. For a doctor to apply to SAHPRA for approval to prescribe medicinal cannabis, he/she must have completed the SAHPRA Section 21 forms together with your informed consent [you consent to the use of the unregistered medicine], including a non-refundable payment of R350 (R60 per month) application fee to SAHPRA.
What are the side effects of medicinal cannabis?
As with many prescription medicines, medicinal cannabis products with high levels of THC can have side effects. These may include: fatigue and sedation, feelings of euphoria (intense happiness), vertigo, nausea and vomiting, or depression, fever, confusion, appetite increase, Hallucinations or paranoid delusions, dry mouth, psychosis or cognitive distortion, diarrhoea.
Will I get high from medicinal cannabis?
A common concern of patients is that medicinal cannabis will make them feel euphoric or ‘high’. In clinical practice however, this is not what we are trying to achieve. The main goal of using medicinal cannabis is to achieve relief of symptoms without producing a ‘high’, and ideally doing it with minimal or no side effects. This is accomplished by starting at low doses and slowly titrating up to effective therapeutic levels.
What do I do if I have a reaction to the product?
If you experience any of anxiety, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, or fainting, it is important that you don’t panic. You should focus on your breathing, stay hydrated, eat something, and find a safe place to relax. The effects should wear off in 2-6 hours depending on the method of consumption. If health and safety become a concern, contact your prescribing doctor immediately.
Is medicinal cannabis addictive?
There is evidence in the scientific literature to suggest that cannabis has a low risk profile for addiction, with lower rates of addiction among regular cannabis users than in users of alcohol, tobacco, and even caffeine.
Is it possible to overdose on cannabis?
Consuming too much cannabis can result in unpleasant effects, that are usually temporary. There is no documented case of death resulting from a toxic overdose of cannabis.
What is the difference between prescription products and CBD oil that I can buy online or in shops without a prescription?
CBD oils available over the counter in South Africa are made from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is derived from cannabis plants that have been cloned and bred to reduce THC content to less than 0.001%. These products vary in cost and quality and are not regulated as medicines.
Illegal market vs Medical market
Purchasing or consuming cannabis from the black market exposes patients to numerous risks. Legal producers of cannabis products follow the stringent rules of their countries' health regulations, while illegal growers do not follow any specified regulations or standards. Regulations and standards are in place to ensure the supply of the highest quality medical grade product. This is to guarantee that their products meet health and safety standards.
How does IntroCann work?
IntroCann is a virtual digital platform that provides both doctors and patients with information about medicinal cannabis.
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