CBCP: No blanket rejection of medical marijuana

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jul 07 2014 02:50 PM | Updated as of Jul 07 2014 10:54 PM

MANILA – The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday said the group cannot issue a "blanket rejection" on the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archishop Socrates Villegas said, however, that such a form of alternative medicine should be used only in "very extreme, exceptional cases."

Villegas said he was referring to cases where patients "are in severe pain, and the best assistance we can give to them is to minimize their pain especially as they prepare for their death."

The prelate said Catholic medical ethics allows the use of even prohibited drugs. He said the church's position against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, however, does not change.

Villegas said the CBCP has been advised by its lawyers that there is no need for the introduction of a new law to allow the use of medical marijuana.

"Our lawyers advised us that the present Republic Act allows the Dangerous Drugs Board to issue implementing rules and regulations so that these prohibited drugs will be used in very extreme, exceptional cases," he said.

In the Philippines, the debate continues as to the efficacy of medical marijuana. There have been proposals to legalize medical marijuana in the Philippines in the wake of the decision of some US states to legalize it also as a form of alternative medicine.

The CBCP legal advisers' view that no new law is needed anymore to legalize medial marijuana has already been voiced out by one of the alternative medicine's proponents, Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano.

Meanwhile, some critics, such as Senator Vicente Sotto III, said there is no empirical data proving that chemicals in marijuana can cure anything. He said marijuana use can only negatively affect one's health and social behavior.

But groups such as Philippines Moms for Medical Marijuana said it is not seeking to legalize the recreational use of marijuana but rather, use the plant's medicinal properties.

In an earlier interview, Dr. Donnabel Cunanan, a dentist and mother of an epileptic child, said their group only wants legal access to medical marijuana in the country for sick people who might benefit from it.

Cunanan clarified that they are not looking for "weed" but for only specific marijuana chemicals that, according to studies, can cure epilepsy.

She explained that CBD is a kind of cannabinoid, a chemical compound found inside the body's endocannabinoid system.

Based on her research, Cunanan said that in the case of epileptics like her child, additional amount of cannabinoid, which is only found in marijuana, is needed. – with Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBNnews.com