By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police remained firm in its stand that the legalization of medical marijuana in the Philippines will have to undergo a multidisciplinary study to be conducted by a pool of experts, a high-ranking police officer disclosed Tuesday.
Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., PNP spokesperson, maintained that any national policy to legalize or regulate the use of marijuana for medical purposes requires legislative action based on careful study by professionals in the field of medicine and pharmacology.
“This can be best addressed by a multidisciplinary study, possibly with the Department of Health (DOH) taking the lead,” he said.
According to the PNP spokesperson, the police alone cannot be the sole competent authority to recommend or endorse the idea of regulating the use of medicinal marijuana.
He said the national police organization could only provide inputs along the enforcement aspect of regulatory laws.
“Medicinal marijuana, nonetheless, should come only in the form of pharmaceutical preparation derived from certain active ingredients, but not in its raw form as used for recreational smoking or ingestion,” Durana emphasized.
“With the absence of any enabling law that regulates and legalizes marijuana, this plant and its derivative substances and products remain prohibited under [Republic Act] 9165 [Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002] which we will continue to vigorously enforce,” he added.
Debates on whether or not marijuana should be legalized in the Philippines were stirred when newly crowned Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray was asked about it at one point of the beauty pageant.
Gray said she supports the legalization of marijuana in the country but only for medical purposes, earning praises from some health advocates and lawmakers.
On Monday, PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde distanced himself when asked about the issue during a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“Titignan muna natin kapag naging batas na ‘yan. As of this time, hindi natin alam kung ano ang magiging epekto niyan. What we have to protect is the abuse palagi (Let’s take a look at that if that becomes a law. As of this time, we don’t know its effect. What we have to protect is always the [potential] abuse),” he said.
“If ever maging batas ‘yan, we need to have a strict implementation of the law and palagi natin tinitignan baka maging prone ito sa abuse, ma-oversupply. ‘Yun ang dapat ma-safeguard natin (If ever that becomes a law, we need to have a strict implementation of it and we should always consider that it can be prone to abuse, oversupply. That’s what we have to guard),” he added.
Currently, House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act is pending before the House of Representatives. It seeks to legalize medical marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating conditions such as seizures and multiple sclerosis.
But under the RA 9165, marijuana is considered as a dangerous and illegal drug.