EDITORIAL – Medical marijuana

(The Philippine Star) – December 23, 2018 – 12:00am

The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act 9165 imposes life in prison and a fine of P500,000 to P10 million for possession of at least 500 grams of marijuana or 10 grams of marijuana resin or resin oil, or for the cultivation of cannabis. For smaller amounts, the penalty ranges from 20 years to life in prison plus fines ranging from P400,000 to P500,000.

As for medical marijuana, the law allows the cultivation of opium, marijuana and other dangerous drugs for medical experiments, research and creation of new medicine. The law also allows the use of dangerous drugs for “compassionate use” although marijuana is not specifically mentioned. Senate President Vicente Sotto III has said this provision allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Certain prohibited drugs such as morphine and powerful tranquilizers are in fact allowed for medical use in this country, with hospitals required to secure the necessary permits for their importation. But it’s intellectual dishonesty to say that the law already allows medical marijuana and there is no need for further legislation.

The Food and Drug Administration has clarified that only cannabinoid, the active ingredient in marijuana, can be used as pain-killing medication. The FDA has explained that a special permit is needed to get cannabinoids from overseas, and only for extreme cases, for patients who are terminally or seriously ill. Drugs with cannabinoids are currently unavailable in the country.

For all other cases involving marijuana, RA 9165 applies, and can put away violators for life. So there is still no law allowing medical marijuana in the same way that it is allowed in about 30 countries and several US states.

In September last year, the House of Representatives committee on health approved the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. The Duterte administration has expressed openness to the legalization of medical marijuana. Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray has given the proposal a further boost, stimulating a national debate. Perhaps the proposal will now merit serious consideration.

Source: https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/12/23/1879195/editorial-medical-marijuana