Sotto: No need to legalize medical marijuana because it’s already legal
MANILA, Philippines—There is no need to legalize medical marijuana because it is already legal, Senate President Vicente Sotto said Tuesday.
“Hindi kailangan [i-legalize] eh kasi allowed already,” Sotto told reporters in a press conference.
Sotto argued that there is a provision under the Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, of which he was the principal author, that allows the use of medical marijuana for “compassionate use.”
He also cited a Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA) compassionate special permit circular that allows access to drugs and medicines that are not registered in the Philippines for compassionate use, noting that it is the physician’s responsibility to apply for the substance permit from FDA.
“In other words, in the Dangerous Drugs Act, combined with the FDA circular, we have a compassionate use provision. It’s allowed already,” Sotto said.
Under the RA 9165 Sec. 2, the government must aim to achieve a “balance in the national control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs.”
Sotto also cited an FDA report last Oct. 2017, which reported that the agency received a total of 585 applications for the special permit as of September 2017, 583 of which were granted. In 2016, 558 of 565 applications were approved.
The Senate President’s reaction came amid Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s answer when she entered the Top 10, saying that she supports the use of medical marijuana when she was asked on her stance on the legalization of the drug.
READ: Marijuana as medicine
The Senate President said that it is just a “matter of information campaign” because many people who are calling for the legalization of medical marijuana do not know this provision.
However, he insisted that there is no need for an intensified information campaign for this provision because those who need the drug for medical purposes are already in the know.
“Nakita mo naman maraming may alam eh lalo na yung may sakit. Alam nila. Kasi ang daming nag-aapply so ‘yung may mga medical problem, alam nila at binibigyan sila ng mga permit ng mga doktor nila,” Sotto said.
“‘Yung mga hindi alam kasi o yung ibang nagsasabi na dapat i-legalize yan, hithit ang gusto eh. Hindi naman cannabis oil ang gusto eh,” he added. /jpv
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