President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not allow the legalization of marijuana, but he supports the use of medical marijuana.
“Medicinal marijuana – yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine now,” Duterte told reporters. “There are medicines right now being developed or already in the market that contains marijuana as a component.”
Duterte said he has seen its ill effects during his youth when his friends got high on marijuana.
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is among the prohibited substances under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2014 has sparked debates on whether to permit the use of the substance for health purposes in the Philippines.
In the same year, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III filed a bill allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
He said cannabis would provide relief to people with a debilitating disease, severe pain, intense seizures and persistent muscle spasms.
Those who are in favor of the legalization of marijuana believe the substance can benefit patients who remain ill after trying all kinds of medicines and conventional treatments.
The Department of Health as well as the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development also proposed that guidelines be put in place so that the government can make sure that medical cannabis use won’t be abused. Albano remains optimistic that his proposal will finally be passed during the 17th Congress despite the president’s ongoing war on drugs. He thinks that Congress would be able to pass the measure so that thousands of Filipinos can be helped and find relief from debilitating conditions.
“We are not decriminalizing marijuana,” Albano says, confident that the Duterte administration will approve his proposal among the other priority measures. He also said that he agrees with the strict controlling provisions surrounding medical cannabis use so that the plant won’t be abused.
“I have high hopes under the Duterte administration that this measure would be enacted into law. Finally, there is hope for our people, especially our children, who suffer from medical conditions like epilepsy, cancer, and multiple sclerosis,” Albano says.