A South African opposition lawmaker who had called for the legalisation of cannabis for medical use died Saturday after a battle with lung cancer, his party said.
Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), had opted for alternative treatment for the disease instead of chemotherapy after his diagnosis over a year ago.
“Since day one. when diagnosed with terminal cancer without any previous symptoms, he decided on his course of treatment and adjusted it according to his own research, studies and experimentations,” the IFP said in a statement.
“He remained true to his own character, right up to the end.”
A lawyer-turned-politician of Italian descent, Oriani-Ambrosini was born in Rome in 1960, before moving to South Africa as an adult.
He became involved in the drawing up of the country’s constitution after the end of apartheid in 1994, and also acted as advisor to IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi in the decade to 2004.
In February, he submitted draft legislation calling for the legalisation of marijuana. South African President Jacob Zuma promised to ask the health minister to look into the matter.
After news of his death spread on Saturday, the ruling African National Congress described him as a “valiant fighter” for individual rights, including the right “to choose marijuana for medical reasons”.