Duque okays use of medical cannabis for research

By Leilani Junio

November 8, 2017, 12:51 pm

MANILA – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said his department approves of the use of medical marijuana for research purposes and in line with the provisions of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"It is very important that we emphasize that in terms of what the FDA is allowed to do, it has to do in the context of research," Duque said during a media briefing held at the Department of Health (DOH) media relations unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila Tuesday.

Commenting on the medical marijuana bill pending before the House of Representatives, Duque said research on medical cannabis could cover its medical benefits for patients who are unresponsive to traditional modes of treatment.

"In a research setting, you can still use the synthetic forms of medical cannabis to address intractable symptoms (of serious illnesses),” he said, adding that such research could monitor patients who seek the compassionate use of marijuana.

The health chief said that medical cannabis in synthetic form is used for the symptomatic relief of pain in certain types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and anorexia in HIV cases, among others.

He, however, said that the active ingredient of marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive ingredient that could impair an individual’s psychomotor skills, as well as cognitive functions.

This, he said, could “increase the risk of differentiated or abnormal perception, for example, and in turn may lead to motor/vehicular accidents, etc."

Meanwhile, Dangerous Drug Abuse, Prevention, and Treatment Program Manager Dr. Ivan Escartin said the Dangerous Drugs Act’s (Republic Act 9165) Section 16 deals with the “Cultivation or Culture of Plants Classified as Dangerous Drugs or are Sources Therof”.

Escartin said the provision states that in the case of medical laboratories and medical research centers that “cultivate or culture marijuana, opium poppy and other plants, or materials of such dangerous drugs for medical experiments and research purposes, or for the creation of new types of medicines, the (Dangerous Drugs) Board shall prescribe the necessary implementing guidelines for the proper cultivation, culture, handling, experimentation and disposal of such plants and materials."

The DDB’s Regulation No. 1 (2014), he said, lays down the procedures on how to use medical cannabis for research. (PNA)