PDEA bats support for medical marijuana bill, but wants amendments
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) expressed support on Saturday to the passage of the a bill that seeks to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes subject to strong regulations under the anti-narcotics law.
“PDEA supports the intention and purpose behind the proposed bill,” PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said in a statement.
“The agency recognizes the need of patients to have access to safe, affordable, available medical cannabis prescribed by registered physicians in cases where cannabis has been found to be effective in the prevention, treatment and management of chronic or debilitating health conditions,” Aquino added.
The House of Representatives committee on health on Monday approved the controversial House Bill No. 180 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which allows the legalization and regulation of the medical use of marijuana.
Marijuana, also called cannabis, has been found to be effective in treating and alleviating symptoms of chronic diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis.
The bill seeks to approve marijuana in various forms, including vapor, capsules, lozenges, dermal patches and oil. It also provides for the creation of the Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers in hospitals and the Medical Cannabis Research and Safety Compliance Facilities.
The PDEA chief recommended the bill to be very specific and only legalize the use of tablet or capsule preparations of the alleged medicinal component of Cannabis and not cannabis itself.
He also proposed to include the definition of marijuana and cannabis under the definition of terms.
Marijuana, under his proposed definition, is “used to describe all plant parts of Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis sativa forma indica, and Cannabis ruderalis, namely, leaves, fruiting tops, stems, flowers, and roots.”
Cannabis, on the other hand, is defined as the “preparation of the cannabis plant (scientific name: Cannabis Sativa) intended for use as psychoactive drug or medicine.”
Aquino also sought to amend Section 6, paragraph b of the bill as “proof of bonafide relationship with the patient,” which requires a physician to show proof of his relationship with the patient.
The chief recommended to include under Section 26 of the bill the following statement: “cultivation, possession, use, sale, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of cannabis not in accordance with the provisions of the Act shall be deemed a violation of Republic Act 9165, Otherwise Known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. “
While expressing inclination towards the measure’s passage, Aquino reminded the public that the R.A. 9165 classifies marijuana or cannabis as a dangerous drug “whose cultivation, sale and use are strictly prohibited.”
“However, control measures and regulations on the medical use of cannabis are highly needed to ensure the patient’s safety and prevent its use for recreational purposes,” Aquino said.
“PDEA will continue to enforce the law and enjoin the public to abide by the law,” the official said. /idl
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