Legal medical marijuana amidst Philippines drug war

Recently, Philippines President Duterte announced that he was reinstating the bloody war on drugs. This comes right after citizens voted in favor of legal medical marijuana.

Newsweek reports on the victorious vote. It will allow lawful medical cannabis use in the Philippines despite being recorded one day after the death penalty was reinstated for specific drug crimes.

How will it be implemented?

The House Bill 180 explains the laws on how medical marijuana will become available, and to whom. Doctors with a cannabis qualification can prescribe it. Patients with an ID card may receive it from qualified caregivers and compassionate centers. However, patients will have to wait for lawmakers to pass the necessary legislation.

Rep. Seth Jalosjos, says that thousands of patients with serious medical conditions could benefit from the legal use of medical marijuana. He hopes that the Duterte administration will get to work passing the relevant laws soon.

There is no recreational element in the proposed change. Only people with severe illnesses will get legal medical marijuana. This could include kids with seizure disorders, people living with multiple sclerosis, and cancer sufferers.

Cannabis – a medicine or a drug?

The contradiction in the stance Duterte takes between the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana is marked. He admitted cannabis could be useful as a medicine while he was the mayor of Davao City.

His stance on recreational use is: “If you just smoke it like a cigarette, I will not allow it, ever. It remains a prohibited item and there’s always a threat of being arrested. If you choose to fight the law enforcement agency, you die.”

At the time, Duterte said that he sees the medicinal value of legal medical marijuana, calling it a “modern medicine.” He has noticed the growth in pharmaceuticals containing cannabis compounds, and he will also have noted the fall in opioid-related deaths in US states with medical marijuana laws.

Perhaps we should be careful to avoid mentioning the fact that medical marijuana is nothing new. Duterte might not be as pleased with it if we were to remind him that it isn’t really a “modern medicine.”

True controversy

Duterte’s controversial stance on drugs is well-known. His war on drugs has shocked the world because of the thousands of death sentences and extra-judicial killings. However, the growing body of evidence showing the true medicinal benefits of legal medical marijuana seem to have swayed him – at least as far as allowing people to use the herb under a doctor’s supervision.

There are still many questions. For example, who would grow legal medical marijuana – and when cultivation begins, what about their safety? What training will Duterte’s government expect medical practitioners to have before they can prescribe cannabis? In what forms can people consume it?

Still, it is encouraging to see that the facts about legal medical marijuana are even swaying governments as oppressive as Duterte’s. Ultimately, it is the patients who will benefit, and they’re the ones who need it most.

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