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Medical marijuana still illegal, only 'compassionate use' is allowed —DDB

The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) on Monday clarified that marijuana use is still illegal in the country although "compassionate" use is allowed to aid patients with terminal illnesses.

“Compassionate use, 'yun ‘yung pinapayagan natin na gumamit ng certain prohibited drugs, ‘yung mga pasyente na, halimbawa, may terminal cancer,” said DDB chairman Catalino Cuy in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

Cuy 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.

According to Cuy, the tablet brand has 0.1 % tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. He said they are aligning their regulation to the THC content threshold that the US Food and Drug Administration set.

“Ito ‘yung papayagan nating makapasok dito,” he said.

The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration can issue a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions such as AIDS or cancer to have legal access to an unregistered drug like marijuana.

“Meron lang specialist physician na puwedeng mag-issue ng tinatawag natin na yellow prescription na naka-register sa ating DDB at PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency),” Cuy said.

Sought for comment, Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has always been in favor of using marijuana for medical purposes.

“Ever since naman iyon ang sinasabi ni Presidente. Kung medical, okay lang sa kaniya,” Panelo told reporters, even though he admitted he had yet to ask the President about the DDB’s pronouncement.

In March last year, Duterte declared that he was no longer in favor of legalizing the use of marijuana to treat illnesses.

"Not in my time. Some other president maybe," Duterte said in a speech in Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

"I do not intend to legalize it. Ayaw ko. Gawain mo lang excuse ‘yan eh. Magtatanim ka ng iyo. Sabihin mo, 'Medicinal man kaya ‘to.'"  —Joviland Rita/Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News