Stricter Regulations Urged for Medical Cannabis Legalization in the Philippines

Sen. Maria Josefa Imelda “Imee” Marcos (PHOTO: MIKE ALQUINTO)
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SEN. Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos has called for more stringent regulations surrounding the proposed legalization of medical cannabis or marijuana in the Philippines. While she appreciates the intent behind the compassionate use of marijuana, she emphasizes the need for clear lines of control, regulation, and genuine enforcement.

Marcos issued this statement as the Senate commenced deliberations on Senate Bill 2573, also known as the Cannabis Medicalization Act. However, she has not yet signed the committee report on the bill prepared by the Senate Subcommittee on Medical Cannabis Compassionate Access Act, led by Sen. Robinhood “Robin” Padilla.

“I haven’t signed it. I have a very clear understanding of the compassionate use of marijuana because I am a glaucoma patient, just like my mother and many relatives on my mother’s side who also have eye conditions. For decades, doctors have prescribed medical cannabis to glaucoma patients for medical purposes,” Marcos explained.

While twelve senators have already signed the committee report on the measure, Marcos raises concerns about the lack of clarity regarding who will be in charge of enforcement. She also highlights the repeated failures in other jurisdictions, where limitations on medical use have been exploited for recreational and illegal purposes.

Padilla, the bill’s author, has expressed his openness to suggestions from his colleagues. The bill defines “medical cannabis” as cannabis products in pharmaceutical formulation, with detailed and accurate information on the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, as certified by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The proposed legislation mandates the use of medical cannabis as a complementary treatment to alleviate the debilitating medical conditions or symptoms of qualified patients. It also seeks to establish the Philippine Medical Cannabis Authority under the Department of Health, which will be responsible for implementing the law and regulating access to and use of medical cannabis.

It is crucial to approach the legalization of medical cannabis with caution and ensure that robust regulations are in place to prevent misuse. While the compassionate use of marijuana can bring relief to patients with certain medical conditions, it is essential to strike a balance between access and control.

By implementing clear lines of control and regulation, the Philippine Medical Cannabis Authority can ensure that medical cannabis is used solely for its intended purpose and prevent any potential abuse for recreational or illegal use. The authority should work closely with medical professionals to establish guidelines for prescribing medical cannabis, ensuring that it is only recommended when other treatments have proven ineffective or insufficient.

Furthermore, the authority must collaborate with law enforcement agencies to develop effective mechanisms for enforcement. This includes monitoring the production, distribution, and use of medical cannabis to prevent any diversion into the illicit market. By doing so, the government can maintain the integrity of the medical cannabis program and protect public safety.

While it is essential to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, it is equally crucial to consider the unique context of the Philippines. Local laws, customs, and societal norms should be taken into account when formulating regulations for medical cannabis. This will help ensure that the legislation is tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the country.

The legalization of medical cannabis in the Philippines has the potential to provide relief to patients suffering from debilitating conditions. However, it is crucial to approach this issue with care, implementing stringent regulations and enforcement mechanisms to prevent any misuse or diversion.

By striking a balance between access and control, the Philippines can pave the way for a responsible and effective medical cannabis program that prioritizes the well-being of patients while safeguarding public health and safety.

Source: The Manila Times

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