MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial has created a panel of experts from the University of the Philippines who will study the medicinal value of marijuana amid a pending bill in Congress that seeks to legalize its use in the country.
Ubial said the Department of Health (DOH) could not make a stand on medical marijuana at this point because the panel, composed of experts from the UP National Institute of Health, will still be studying it.
“I’m not a clinician so I don’t have an idea on medical marijuana. But I already heard from some groups that it has medicinal benefits so we will see,” she explained in an ambush interview.
Ubial also noted that the DOH does not want medical marijuana to be abused.
Marijuana or cannabis is included in the list of prohibited drugs under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
President Duterte earlier said he was not opposed to the legalization of marijuana provided that it is for medical use and not for recreational purposes. He also acknowledged that marijuana is now an ingredient in some medicine.
Last month, Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano re-filed his bill, Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which is expected to benefit those who suffer from serious illnesses.
The proposed measure is intended to provide easy access to safe and affordable medical marijuana prescribed by registered physicians.
Last year, the House committee on health created a technical working group that would formulate the final version of the bill.