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Rody won’t oppose medical marijuana

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Rody wonât oppose medical marijuana
The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2014 has sparked debate on whether to permit the use of the substance for health purposes in the Philippines. 
AP / Rich Pedroncelli, file

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte is not opposed to the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use, but is against its use for recreational purposes.

“Medical marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine now,” he told reporters on Monday night when asked about his stance on legalizing marijuana. 

“There are medicines right now being developed or already in the market that (have) marijuana as a component… used for medical purposes,” he added. 

Duterte anchored his campaign on curbing crime and illegal drugs. He said he would still have those who use marijuana for recreational purposes arrested. 

“If you just smoke it like a cigarette, I will not allow it, ever. It remains to be a prohibited item and there’s always a threat of being arrested. If you choose to fight the law enforcement agency, you die,” he added.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is among the prohibited substances under the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2014 has sparked debate on whether to permit the use of the substance for health purposes in the Philippines. 

In the same year, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III filed a bill allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

He said cannabis would provide relief to people with debilitating disease, severe pain, intense seizures and persistent muscle spasms.

Those who are in favor of the legalization of marijuana believe the substance can benefit patients who remain ill after trying all kinds of medicine and conventional treatments. 

Some sectors, however, are concerned about the possible effects of marijuana legalization on public safety.

They pointed out that some crimes were committed by people who were high on the substance.

Groups representing doctors are opposed to the legalization of cannabis, saying there is still no assurance that the substance is effective in curing diseases. 

In a congressional hearing held in 2014, Assistant Secretary Benjamin Reyes of the Dangerous Drugs Board said there is a component in cannabis that can be used medically but the plant has more than 30,000 components that should be controlled.

The Department of Health (DOH) has vowed to review the bill seeking to legalize marijuana to determine if it is doable and ensure that the substance would not be abused.

DOH backs medical marijuana

Health Secretary Janette Garin said the DOH has long been supportive of the use of medical marijuana for patients who really need it.

“The DOH gave its support when it was proposed in Congress, but we just gave certain conditions in which it will be allowed,” Garin said.

She, however, stressed the need for the strict monitoring of its implementation since it is susceptible to abuse.

“While it is needed, it is important that maximum effort should be exercised so it will not be abused. It should always be measured so that it will curtail abuse,” Garin explained. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Jess Diaz

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