MANILA, Philippines — “Not too fast.”
This is seemingly the message Senator Ping Lacson would like to convey as he said “the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) cannot usurp Congress’ legislative power over the use of medicinal marijuana in the country.
The senator from Cavite said the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 must first be amended before the marijuana extract cannabidiol (CBD) can be allowed for medicinal use.
“The DDB cannot usurp the power of Congress to legislate since there is an existing (law) that prohibits its use,” Lacson said.
The former PNP chief added that the state needs to amend existing laws to allow marijuana use even if this if for medicinal purposes.
In particular, that law is Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. This law lists marijuana or cannabis as a prohibited substance.
Statements by the senators are in reaction to an earlier report on the media that the DDB had already approved “in principle” the use of CBD to ease the pain of severe forms of epilepsy.
In an interview, DDB chairman Catalino Cuy countered that the board’s resolution only allowed the importation, in tablet form, of CBD medicine as approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) in 2018 for specific forms of epilepsy.
Cuy further explained that “Marijuana use was not legalized. There is no usurpation (of congressional powers).”
Citing Sections 2 and 93 of RA 9165, Cuy said the law already contained provisions that allow the DDB to reclassify, add or remove any drug from the list of dangerous drugs, particularly “if the drug in question is already a registered medicine.”
The US FDA approved CBD tablets in 2018 under the trademark Epidiolex, which has no more than 0.1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, main ingredient of marijuana that causes the “high” effect or psychoactive effect.
For his part, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, a former DDB chair himself, says he agrees that RA 9165 actually authorizes the “compassionate use” of cannabis for therapeutic purposes “as long as it is monitored and permitted” by the DDB and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also shared the same observation saying RA 9165 exempted the medical use of cannabis from criminal prosecution.
“We just have to check if the proper procedure [is being] followed,” Pimentel said. “Medical benefits must be proven first because I have my doubts about its medical benefits.” (iamigo/sovereignph.com)