Sotto: No need for Congress to pass law for medical marijuana

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday reiterated that there is no need for Congress to waste efforts legislating a law that will allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Sotto issued the statement after the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) said that it recently approved “in principle” a resolution authorizing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for alleviating severe forms of epilepsy.

The Senate President said he will not raise any objection to DDB’s announcement but his support will border on the assumption that the use of such “is in medicine form and conforms with the DDB-PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) guidelines and permit.”

“The DDB move proves the law being proposed in the HOR is unnecessary. There are more important proposed legislations that our honorable counterparts at the HOR should spend their time on,” Sotto said.

“I hope they give priority to measures that will have more impact on the most number of our countrymen,” he added.

The House of Representatives in January approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to legalize and regulate medical marijuana in treating chronic or debilitating medical conditions. The bill also proposes the establishment of Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers which will be authorized to supply, sell, and dispense cannabis to qualified patients through S3-licensed pharmacists.

According to Sotto, the use of cannabis for medical purposes is already authorized under the country’s Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, which he noted sets down the policy that “the government shall aim to achieve a balance in the national drug control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated with adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs.”

He pointed out that the policy is implemented through a circular issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing the guidelines for the issuance of a “compassionate special permit.”

DDB chairman Catalino Cuy earlier clarified there is no need for a separate medical marijuana law since mechanisms already exist to allow the use of dangerous drug compounds in medicine form.

Cuy also said that cultivation and production of marijuana for medical or for any other purposes is still illegal in the country under Republic Act 9165.

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