In a stark juxtaposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s notorious anti-drug stance, a medical marijuana bill in the Philippines will advance. Here at Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hopeful that HB 180 will overcome future hurdles and be passed. Known as the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, the bill would give patients with specific, debilitating conditions access to medical cannabis and expand the country’s research into its medicinal benefits.
As for Duterte, he appears to be on board and has stated, “Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient in modern medicine right now. There are medicines right now being developed or already in the market that (contains) marijuana as a component.”
While the outcome of the medical marijuana bill in the Philippines still remains uncertain, our team at Medicine Man Technologies will be keeping an eye on its developments. What’s so startling to us is that Duterte has waged a violent “war on drugs” in his country, including cannabis and other “hard drugs”. His vastly different views on medical marijuana are certainly unexpected.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs
Prior to being elected just in May of last year, Duterte spoke to a massive crowd about his stance against drugs. In his speech, he declared, “If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.”
He won the presidential election with just under 40% of the vote.
After taking office in June of 2016, Duterte followed through on this campaign promise immediately. To date, the president’s war on drugs has led to the killing of around 7,000 Filipinos with other estimates somewhere between 10,000 to 12,000 citizens. Deaths are attributed to the Philippine National Police and vigilante killings instigated and incited by Duterte and his senior officials.
Even if the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act passes, recreational marijuana use will continue to be illegal. Punishment for just a few grams includes massive fines, as well as decades and even life in prison. And while the death penalty for drug offenses was abolished in 2006, the country’s House of Representatives has now passed a bill to revive its use for certain drug-related offenses.
Details of the Medical Marijuana Bill in the Philippines
Despite the country’s violent recent history, HB 180 survived over a year of scrutiny and debate in the House. If passed, the new legislation would require the Philippines Department of Health to establish, license and manage a system of Medical Cannabis Compassion Centres. Regulations for distribution and sales will be developed by the country’s Drug Enforcement Agency.
Patients will need to be issued an identification card by a certified physician with whom they have a “bona fide” relationship. The doctor must also be educated on both the benefits and effects of medical marijuana use. Minors will also have access with the consent of a custodial parent or legal guardian who has been fully informed of the benefits and risks of medicinal marijuana.
And while raw, flower and hash forms will unfortunately not be legal, qualified patients will have access to edibles, tinctures and capsules. Currently, patients with the following conditions will qualify:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord
- HIV and AIDS
- Admitted into hospice care
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Rheumatoid arthritis and chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorders
Other conditions may later be added later by the Department of Health if recommended by a panel of doctors assembled specifically to make a determination.
While this medical marijuana bill in the Philippines will advance to the next level, it remains to be seen if legislators can secure its passing. At Medicine Man Technologies, we’re hoping that patients will finally get the medicine they need without having to risk their lives using an illegal black market. As the drama continues to unfold, we’ll be sure to give you further updates.