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Medical marijuana must be strictly regulated: DOH chief

MANILA – Ad Interim Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has expressed support for the use of medical cannabis in the country, provided it is under strict regulation.

“It is supposed to be for compassionate use, so there must be a very narrow applicability and must be strictly regulated,” Duque said Monday.

He said the Department of Health (DOH) is closely working with lawmakers regarding the technical aspects of House of Representatives Bill (HB) No. 180 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act to prevent the abuse of medical marijuana.

“There are continuing consultations where we provide them our technical positions in order to ensure that the final version of the law will be clear and acceptable,” said Duque.

He noted that the DOH would have to make sure that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is fully capable of implementing the law once it is passed.

“If it gets approved, the FDA must really do its mandate well, in terms of adhering to the standards of quality, safety, and efficacy, coupled with compliance with all its rules and regulations,” said the health chief.

HB 180 was unanimously approved by the House committee on health last month after consulting patients, advocacy groups, health care practitioners, and experts in the regulation of controlled substances for medical use.

Under the bill, the use of marijuana to treat debilitating medical conditions would be allowed only for medication purposes.

Proponents of medical cannabis have said that medical anecdotes show that marijuana is capable of easing epileptic seizures, cancer, multiple sclerosis, pain, and glaucoma.

They are advocating the use of the whole plant to be processed into pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis in finished dosage form, such as cannabis oil extract, tincture, suppositories, capsules, pills, spray, and topicals. (PNA)

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