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Sotto: No need to legislate law for medical marijuana


Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday there is no need for Congress to legislate a law to make use of marijuana for medical purposes legal.

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

He said he will not object to the DDB announcement but his support will border on the assumption that the use of cannabis “is in medicine form and conforms with DDB-PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) guidelines and permit.”

“The DDB move proves that the law being proposed in the House of Representatives is unnecessary. There are more important proposed legislations that our honorable counterparts at the HOR should spend their time on. I hope they give priority to measures that will have more impact on the most number of our countrymen,” he said.

Last month, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the measure legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

The bill will allow the use of marijuana in treating chronic or debilitating medical conditions and establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) which will be authorized to sell, supply and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or their caregivers through S3-licensed pharmacists.

Sotto, a former DDB chair, said 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 said 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 has clarified that marijuana use is still illegal in the country although “compassionate” use is allowed to aid patients with terminal illnesses.

He said the use of cannabidiol (CBD) tablet Epidiolex is now allowed in the Philippines after they approved its reclassification.

“Itong board regulation na ito, nag-reclassify lang tayo. Hindi natin pinapayagan pa rin ang medical marijuana. Nag-reclassify lang tayo ng Epidiolex,” he said. — RSJ, GMA News

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