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Herbosa eyes passage of medical cannabis bill into law

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa at Commission on Appointments deliberation

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said Tuesday that the Department of Health (DOH) will push for the legalization of the use of marijuana or cannabis for medical purposes.

Herbosa reaffirmed his support for the legalization of medical marijuana and its products before the Commission on Appointments (CA) Committee on Health, while his appointment as Health secretary is currently being scrutinized.

“We will pursue this and make sure that medical marijuana law will be passed,” Herbosa said.

According to him, importing medical cannabis in the country is very hard despite having a compassionate use permit because a doctor first has to request paperwork from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte Jr. welcomed Herbosa’s stand on the matter, stressing that applying for a compassionate permit in the Philippines is tedious and that its importation costs a lot of money.

“Kung mahirap ang may epilepsy ang bata at nag-a-apply ka ng permit, napakatagal, [aabutin ng] taon. By the time na ma-approve na ang permit, napakamahal mag-import. This is anti-poor,” the lawmaker said.

(If the child who has epilepsy is poor, s/he has to apply for a permit, but it would take a long time. By the time the permit is approved, it is very expensive to import cannabis. This is anti-poor.)

He also pointed out that over 60 countries have already legalized medical cannabis, appealing to Herbosa to study and push for the same.

“I don’t know why the Philippines is delaying this. What do the 60 countries know that we don’t? The only news that I read from the 60 countries is that it’s very beneficial and their revenues increased. Wala pong namatay sa overdose or crimes [nobody died due to overdose or crimes],” Villafuerte said.

Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 states that the government should “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.”

Herbosa earlier said he is not in favor of cultivating and manufacturing marijuana in the country.

The DOH chief said medical cannabis would be beneficial for those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, and seizure disorder, among others. —KG, GMA Integrated News