Those campaigning to get medical marijuana legalized in the Philippines can chill because it looks like it won’t take much to get President Rodrigo Duterte’s “OK.”
His spokesperson Salvador Panelo said yesterday that Duterte would sign any bill that would legalize the use of weed for medical purposes.
According to ABS-CBN News, Panelo’s exact words were: “Since the President already made a statement that he’s in favor of limited use of marijuana… logically, then he will support… and sign any bill that would be consistent with his stand.”
Duterte has always been in favor of medical marijuana but he made headlines earlier this month after saying in a speech that he uses it to stay awake and keep up with his busy schedule.
The irony in Duterte’s statement was not lost on most people, especially because his deadly drug war shows no signs of stopping.
The debate about medical marijuana was sparked once again this week after Miss Universe 2018 winner Catriona Gray, the Philippines’ representative, expressed support for it.
Host Steve Harvey asked Gray about her thoughts on the legalization of marijuana, to which she replied:
“I’m for it being used in a medical use but not so for recreational use because I think if people were to argue, ‘What about alcohol and cigarettes?’ Well, everything is good but in moderation.”
Yesterday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that there’s no need to pass a law legalizing medical marijuana because it is already legal.
“It is just a matter of information campaign,” he told reports, according to GMA News.
Sotto cited Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which states: “The government shall, however, aim to achieve a balance in the national drug control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated with adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs.”
According to Sotto, the Food and Drug (FDA) Administration issues permits for people who apply for access to unregistered drugs.
The Philippine Star also reported that in 2016, former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said that the FDA gives exemptions for the “compassionate use” of marijuana.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reminded that they will still arrest and charge those who use marijuana.
According to Radyo Inquirer, PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that medical marijuana remains illegal until a law permitting it is enacted.
House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act is currently pending in the House of Representatives.