On Saturday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, or PDEA, expressed supportiveness toward passing a bill that will permit the use of cannabis for medical reasons, provided it be subject to heavy regulation under the country’s anti-drug laws. In a statement, Director General of the PDEA, Aaron N. Aquino, said, “PDEA supports the intention and purpose behind the proposed bill.”
“The agency recognizes the need of patients to have access to safe, affordable, available medical cannabis prescribed by registered physicians in cases where cannabis has been found to be effective in the prevention, treatment, and management of chronic or debilitating health conditions,” Aquino explained. The bill is a giant step in the right direction.
Controversial House Bill No. 180, called the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, permits the legalization of medical marijuana and strict regulation of it. On Monday, the House of Representatives committee on health approved it, finally giving desperate patients access to pot. Studies find it effective at both alleviating and treating symptoms of serious diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer.
The bill approves medical cannabis in various forms, including oil, dermal patches, lozenges, capsules, and vapor. It also contains provisions for the creation of Medical Cannabis Research and Safety Compliance Facilities and Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers in hospitals around the country. The PDEA chief proposed adding the definition of cannabis and marijuana into the bill’s definition of terms.
Under his proposed definition, marijuana is “used to describe all plant parts of Cannabis sativa, Cannabis sativa forma indica, and Cannabis ruderalis, namely leaves, fruiting tops, stems, flowers, and roots.”
Aquino also recommended that the bill be extremely specific, and that it only legalize the use of capsule or tablet forms of the medicinal components of cannabis, and not the plant itself.
On the other hand, Aquino proposes defining cannabis as the “preparation of the cannabis plant (scientific name: Cannabis Sativa) intended for use as psychoactive drug or medicine.” He also wants to amend paragraph (b) under Section 6 of the bill as “proof of bonafide relationship with the patient,” which will require doctors to provide proof of patient relationships.
Under Section 26 of the bill, the chief also recommended including the following statement: “cultivation, possession, use, sale, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of cannabis not in accordance with the provisions of the Act shall be deemed a violation of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”
While showing favor toward passing the measure, Aquino took pains to remind the citizenry that Republic Act 9165 defines cannabis and marijuana as a “dangerous substance whose cultivation, sale and use are strictly prohibited.”
“However,” he said, “control measures and regulations on the medical use of cannabis are highly needed to ensure the patient’s safety and prevent its use for recreational purposes. PDEA will continue to enforce the law and enjoin the public to abide by the law.”