GREEN Party leader Peter Sinkamba has dragged health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya to court for refusing to give him a licence to import, export, cultivate, produce, possess, sale, distribute, and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Sinkamba is seeking among other reliefs a declaration that the decision was unlawful, unreasonable and ultra vires the provisions of Part II of the Dangerous Drugs Act Chapter 95 of the Laws of Zambia and Section 9 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Chapter 96 of the Laws of Zambia.
The opposition leader is also seeking a declaration that the use of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes was indispensable and that individual with qualifying medical need should not be unduly denied access in accordance with International and domestic law.
A declaration that the aforesaid decision of the Minister violated the rules of natural justice; an Order of Certiorari to quash the said decision of the Minister of Health; an Order of Mandamus directed to the Minister of Health to promulgate Regulations for the importation, exportation, cultivation, production, possession and use of cannabis as required of Minister of Health under the aforesaid Dangerous Drugs Act,
He is also seeking an order of prohibition restraining the Minister of Health, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Commissioner of the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Zambian government in general from unduly restricting the use of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.
Sinkamba is also demanding damages, costs and any other costs the court may deem fit.
According to him, the Minister acted contrary to the rules of natural justice and unreasonably stated that he (Sinkamba) had not met the required criteria for the grant of a license when no such criteria had been promulgated by the Government.
Sinkamba contended that he was not accorded an opportunity to be heard on any alleged deficiency in his application and none was communicated to him despite proposing in his application to the Minister to meet with him to discuss the his conceptual framework, as well as procedural, licensing, regulatory and other imperatives.
“The decision of the minister that he would not allow cannabis cultivation because it would be irresponsible and unethical was arbitrarily, capricious and unlawful as it violated express provisions of the law allowing cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes,” he stated.
The decision of the Minister that there are other available drugs in health facilities capable of treating ailments which cannabis was said to heal and therefore he could not issue a license to the Applicant was unreasonable and contrary to Part II of the Dangerous Drugs Act and Section 18 of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act, which recognises that medical doctors can in appropriate cases prescribe cannabis as a prescription drug.
Sinkamba has since his coming on the political scene pushed for the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal use.