DOH: Legalizing marijuana not necessary

ON THE heels of the claims of actor Mark Anthony Fernandez of using marijuana to help prevent cancer, the Department of Health (DOH) does not believe that legalizing it is necessary.

In an interview, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said they do not subscribe to the idea of legalizing marijuana in order to provide those in medical need of it to gain access.

“We, in the medical community, believe that legalizing a product is not the way to go,” said Ubial.

She said this is because marijuana, or cannabis, can already be availed in the country for those needing it for medical purposes by simply seeking permit from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We can access it. The FDA Law right now provides access to drugs and medicines that are not registered in the Philippines for compassionate use,” explained Ubial.

FDA Circular 2014-009 allowed the agency to provide Compassionate Special Permit to those needing to use drug products that are not legalized in the country.

To note, Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, includes marijuana resin, marijuana resin oil, and marijuana as among those considered as illegal.

Several medical anecdotes, though, indicate that marijuana is capable of treating cancer, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, and epilepsy.

Nevertheless, Ubial said they are leaving the issue of marijuana legalization to lawmakers.

“On its legalization, that matter is already up for Congress to decide,” said Ubial.

To recall, House Bill 180 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act has been re-filed by Isabela (first district) Representative Rodolfo Albano.

As to the claims of Fernandez, she said using marijuana for medical purposes does not include its raw form.

Ubial said that marijuana used for medicinal purposes are those that have undergone scientific processing.

“It has its medicinal uses but not in its raw form. The ones actually allowed are those that have already been extracted of its medicinal component,” she said.

Using marijuana in its raw form, according to the DOH head, carries more danger of developing cancer and other illnesses.

“In the raw form, actually, marijuana is more dangerous than tobacco leaves. It has 400 chemicals and many are carcinogenic. It is four to five times more carcinogenic than tobacco leaves,” said Ubial.

Last Monday, Fernandez was apprehended by the Angeles City police and was found in possession of one kilogram of marijuana in his car.

In his defense, Fernandez said he is using marijuana for medical purposes, specifically to fight cancer, since his late father, actor Rudy Fernandez, had succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2008. (HDT/Sunnex)
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