Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo noted that medical marijuana is not yet among the drugs that can be registered in the Philippines.
AFP
‘Enabling law needed for medical marijuana research’
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — An enabling law is needed before the government can research on medical marijuana, a health official said after former president and incumbent Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vouched for the efficacy of the drug.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo noted that medical marijuana is not yet among the drugs that can be registered in the Philippines.

“We cannot go full blast into studying the actual product because it’s not listed as a registrable product with (the Food and Drug Administration) at this time. There is no law listing it as a registrable product,” Domingo said at a press briefing yesterday in Malacañang.

“The government cannot spend money to research on the product that cannot be registered in the Philippines... We’ll have to wait for an enabling law that will allow it to be a registrable product before we can actually consider pouring some resources into clinical researches for it,” he added.

On Tuesday, Arroyo revealed she had used medical cannabis patches to ease the pain in her cervical spine. Arroyo, author of one of the bills on medical marijuana, said the pain patches worked.

“I really believe in medical cannabis. As you know, I have my problem here (cervical spine) and when I’m in a country that allows it, I put a pain patch, but here in the Philippines I cannot do it,” Arroyo told reporters in a chance interview.

The Speaker said her House Bill 6517 (or the medical cannabis bill) is now on its second reading but admitted that it faces a lot of opposition.

“I authored that bill because I believe that it can help me and many other people, but there was a lot of objection to the bill from the House and from the Senate. That’s why we are just letting the legislative process take its course,” the Pampanga congresswoman added.

Arroyo underwent operations for cervical spondylosis, an age-related deterioration in the bones of the neck, causing a misalignment in the spine which, in turn, puts pressure on the nerves that transmit signals to the upper extremities.

A titanium plate was implanted in the part of her neck to realign the deformed spine.

The use of marijuana is illegal in the Philippines but some sectors think it should be allowed for medical purposes.

Marijuana is one of the prohibited substances under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

A person found guilty of possessing at least 500 grams of marijuana, or at least 10 grams of marijuana concentrate, may be sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million.

Those who possess lesser quantities may be sentenced to a jail term of 12-20 years and a fine of up to P500,000.

Last month, President Duterte said he used marijuana to keep himself awake during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Singapore. He later clarified he was just joking.

Meanwhile, the leader of the official opposition bloc in the House of Representatives raised the possibility of getting lobbyists, if only to get the controversial medical marijuana bill passed – just like in the so-called “sin taxes” in the tobacco and alcohol industry.

“Perhaps, there should be a lobby group also for this,” House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said in jest at the weekly media briefing, as he supported the medical cannabis bill. – With Delon Porcalla

GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO MEDICAL MARIJUANA
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