Since 2014, lawmakers from the Philippines have been trying to get legislation on medical cannabis passed in Congress and have re-introduced it in the current 18th Congress, with little success so far. The main roadblock is President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial anti-drug policy – popularly called the ‘war on drugs’ – which has attracted criticism from human rights advocates because of the rising number of extra-judicial killings.
Critics of the bills argue that no new or additional bills are needed, since under the Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, using medical marijuana for compassionate use for people with terminal illnesses is allowed in the country. Under RA 9165, cannabis is listed as a dangerous drug and the sale, possession, use, importation, manufacturing, cultivation, among others, of which are prohibited and punishable by fine and imprisonment.
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The term of President Duterte, who is ineligible for re-election, expires on June 30 2022, and so does the 18th Congress. Is there a glimmer of hope for the passage of any law relating to medical cannabis before the 18th Congress ends? Probably none.
Both are before the house committee on health for approval. HB 3961, introduced in 2020 by Congressman Luis Raymund Villafuerte, aims at legalising the local production and export of medical marijuana to make it more accessible and cheaper for Filipinos. It also hopes to take advantage of the growing multi-billion dollar industry citing that Singapore, China and Thailand – which already have very strict narcotics law – as producers of medical cannabis or are about to do it, particularly, in the light of the UN Commission on Narcotics Drugs decision in late 2020 to remove from its list of most dangerous drugs, cannabidiol (CBD), a non-addictive and non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
To apply for the special permit, the patient needs to accomplish an application form from FDA, and submits letter from the prescribing doctor, medical abstract and the amount of the medical cannabis needed. All documents will be the subject of evaluation by the FDA.
Medication and side effects
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is warning the public against buying imported Cannabidiol (CBD) oil being used as pain reliever and helps improve overall health and wellness.
What is CBD Oil?
“While marijuana remains illegal, including for medical purposes, in the country, terminally-ill patients may apply for a special permit from Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for the compassionate use of CBD oil,” Aquino noted.
Clinical studies suggest that CBD has broad therapeutic value. CBD is known to be effective for seizure disorder and chronic pain. The cannabis oil may also be used to help improve sleep, and reduce anxiety and stress.
Cuy clarified there is no effort on the part of the government to import CBD oil for medicinal purposes.
The article mentioned that the DDB’s approval of a cannabis product for compassionate use could pave the way for CBD importation, subject to approval by the government.
He said CBD oil or other raw materials for marijuana is banned in the Philippines and those found importing the items in the country could face charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
MANILA, Philippines — The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) yesterday reminded the public that the marijuana derivative cannabidiol (CBD) is still prohibited in the country.
DDB chairman Catalino Cuy said Regulation 8 Series of 2019 only allows the importation of medicines containing dangerous drugs that are registered in other countries.
He issued the statement in response to an article from The STAR stating that Greenergy Holdings Inc. has acquired a majority stake in Yakuru Group Pty. Ltd. which recently introduced its line of CBD or medical mairjuana products in Australia.
“That ingredient is still illegal,” Cuy said in a phone interview.