UP Manila strongly opposes legalization of medical marijuana


MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines Manila expressed its strongest objection to the proposals to legalize medical cannabis as it poses a serious threat to public health.

In a statement, members of the Technical Working Group on Medical Cannabis Legalization and faculty members said House Bills 6517, 180 and 4477 which propose to legalize marijuana risk the health and safety of Filipinos.

“We strongly oppose medical cannabis legalization since this will expose our citizenry to unnecessary harm and the risk of poor health outcomes,” UP Manila said.

While the university recognizes that some patients who do not respond to standard treatment may benefit from medical cannabis, the members of the technical working group said there is no need for any new legislation to allow access to marijuana.

The university also expressed their strong objection on the conduct of local scientific studies to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of medical cannabis in legitimate research institutions and creation of a Medical Cannabis Study Group at the National Institutes of Health to initiate, conduct and lead local research on medical marijuana.

UP Manila noted that research on cannabis and medical cannabis shall be under the regulation of the Dangerous Drug Board as prescribed by law.

“Cultivation, culture and experiments on cannabis, its extracts or all other forms derived from cannabis can only be allowed on a limited scale in government-controlled research facilities with approved cannabis research program,” it said.

The university stressed that cultivation of marijuana outside the regulation and implementing guidelines of DDB is “unacceptable” as this would lead to diversion of cannabis for recreational use.

“Studies on legalization of medical cannabis have shown an increase in cannabis use and dependence and diversion to recreational use in effect increasing access to a deleterious substance which has increased in potency over the years,” UP Manila said.

Moreover, UP condemned the continuing public education on the benefits and risks of cannabis use.

Duque on medical marijuana

Newly appointed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said he supports the use of cannabis for selected medical cases but agreed that security measures must be in place to prevent abuse.

“Medical marijuana, as the bill describes, is for compassionate use. So, it should never be used by just anyone. There are people who qualify to benefit from medical marijuana,” he said, referring to House Bill 180 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.

Duque stressed that the use of medical marijuana “must have very narrow applicability and must be strictly regulated.”

He was cautioned by Sens. Vicente Sotto, Gregorio Honasan and Sherwin Gatchalian, saying the interpretation of “compassionate use” of medical marijuana could be abused.

Sotto warned that he would object to Duque’s confirmation before the Commission on Appointments should he insist on supporting legislation to allow the use of marijuana for other purposes.

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