Health Secretary Francisco Duque III sees no problem with allowing the “compassionate use” of medical marijuana in the country.
“It is supposed to be for compassionate use. So there must be very narrow applicability and must be strictly regulated,” Duque told reporters, stressing that adequate measures must be put in place to ensure that medical marijuana would not be prone to abuse.
Duque said medical marijuana use was acceptable to him given its medicinal benefits.
“The cannabis oil, which is its most important ingredient, has shown in researches to be effective against seizures, epileptic seizures, cerebral palsy seizures, among others,” he said.
The Secretary said the Department of Health (DOH) was closely working with lawmakers to fine-tune the technical aspects of House Bill No. 180 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.
“There are continuing consultations where we provide them our technical positions in order to ensure that the final version of the law will be clear and acceptable,” he said.
The DOH, Duque said, was also taking steps to make sure that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be fully capable of implementing the measure if and when it is signed into law.
“If it gets approved, the FDA must really do its mandate well in terms of adhering to the standards of quality, safety, and efficacy coupled with compliance with all its rules and regulations,” he said.
The House committee on health approved in September the measure that seeks to legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis or marijuana.
Duque said he wanted to resume the programs he began when he was health chief during the Arroyo administration. But the first order of the day, he added, would be to regain public confidence in the health department.
“We want to resume the provision of impactful and valuable health programs that can be felt by our kababayans (countrymen), much like what we did from 2005 to 2010 as seen in the consistent high approval ratings received by the DOH then,” Duque said in his speech after the flag-raising ceremony on Monday morning.
“We will review the accomplishments of the DOH, and those programs that were successful we will enhance further,” he said.
Duque, who was appointed to the post after the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected Secretary Paulyn Ubial’s nomination, said he was happy to be back home at the DOH. “I’m joyous, I’m elated to be back,” he said.
He expressed readiness to face the CA for his confirmation.
“We will do what needs to be done and we will value the sentiments of the CA members,” Duque said. “I am not saying I am confident but I will try my best.”