Seychelles’ court orders ministry to make rules for medical use of cannabis within 2 years
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles’ Constitutional Court on Friday ordered the government to make regulations for the medical use of cannabis, ruling in favour of a patient who uses the drug to help with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Court gave the government of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, 24 months to make regulations under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016, which authorises the use of any controlled drug for medical purposes.
Friday’s ruling relates to a petition filed by Ralph Volcere in October 2017 on behalf of his mother, Marie-Therese Volcere, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and relies on the use of cannabis oil for treatment.
Volcere had petitioned the Constitutional Court to seek a declaration that the Minister responsible for Home Affairs, MacSuzy Mondon, had violated three articles of the Constitution -- Articles 15, 16 and 29 -- by refusing to make the regulations since the law was enacted in 2016. The petition said the lack of action denied her mother and other patients who are terminally ill access to legal cannabis treatment.
He had added further that failure to make the regulation has infringed on his mother’s constitutional right to life, health and dignity.
When giving its ruling, the Constitutional Court, comprising of Justices Mohan Niranjit Burhan, Samia Andre and Seegobin Nankoo, said the Minister has a “statutory duty to make regulations for the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016 within a reasonable time.”
Mondon and the Ministry were not available for comment.
The presiding judge, Burhan, said the court, however, could not dictate how this task would be undertaken.
“We leave it to the minister to determine the nature, content of scope of the regulation, on the basis that they are reasonably in good faith, rationally and within the parametres of the Constitution,” said Burhan.
The Court dismissed Volcere’s second argument that his mother’s constitutional right to life, dignity and health had been infringed on.
“The petition has failed to establish that failure to make the regulation constitutes an infringement on the petitioner’s mother’s right to life, dignity and health,” said Burhan.
When reacting to the ruling, Volcere said he had mixed feeling.
“I am happy that the court has ruled in my favour on the first petition and has instructed the government to make those regulations. However, the government has been given 24 months, which I feel is quite a long time. I am appealing to the government to do this within six months so as not to deny those patients treatment for another two years,” he said.
Volcere added that not only was there a huge demand for cannabis oil as a treatment but the demand has given rise to the black market.
“People are now paying twice the price for the treatment on the black market. If the regulation was in place there would have been better control as we would buy from pharmacies and we would get a better deal,” he added.
Volcere’s counsel, Frank Elizabeth, described the ruling as a win for all those terminally ill patients who rely on cannabis as a form of treatment.
“I am happy that the court has clearly stated that the Minister failed to make the regulations. We wanted the minister to accept that no one was above the law and when a law clearly states what a minister should do, the minister has to respect these provisions of the law. We shouldn’t be coming to court to force the minister or the executive for that matter to carry out their duties that are clearly stipulated in the law,” said Elizabeth.
Other than the government represented by Designated Minister MacSuzy Mondon, the other respondents in the case were the Minister for Health and the Office of the Attorney General. They were represented by assistant Principal State Counsels George Thachett and Ananth Subramaniam.