DOH warns medical marijuana users: Arrests in the offing

USING marijuana for medical purposes does not avert the possibility of individuals being charged criminally.

This was the warning of Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag to those that may have been using medical marijuana to treat particular medical conditions saying it is prohibited under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

"The law is the law. A user is a user is a user. No matter how you use it, marijuana is prohibited by law so you can be risking criminal charges," warned Tayag during the forum of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

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

A penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million could be imposed to those found in possession of it.

Tayag issued the statement after advocate groups for medical marijuana use stressed that there is a need for the government to heed the public's call to ease access to it.

"We hope the government will acknowledge that there is an existing need of patients. We hope they will grant us the permission for compassion use of marijuana," said Philippine Moms for Medical Marijuana founder Kathleen Kim.

According to Kim, their group is presently handling eight cases, wherein the patients are asking for them to be allowed access to medical marijuana.

She said they have been told by some doctors attending to their members' children suffering from epilepsy that they may try the use of medical marijuana in a bid to cure their medical conditions.

For his part, Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society director Edison Ching clarified that their call is not for the legalization of marijuana as a whole but only for the needs of medical patients being addressed.

"We are not asking for marijuana legalization per se but only for ‘baby steps’ to be taken, first of which is for the children (patients), who need it mostly," said Ching.

To note, several anecdotes indicate that marijuana is capable of treating cancer, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, and epilepsy.

Instead, Tayag said those believing they need medical marijuana should follow the process provided by the law in gaining access to the substance also known as cannabis.

He is referring to the process, wherein medical patients may seek clearance from the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

"There is a process available for us to take. Let us go through that process. The DDB may or may not approve it but at least you tried,” said Tayag. (HDT/Sunnex)
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