Senate President Vicente Sotto III 

MANILA -- Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday there is no need for Congress to legislate a law on medical marijuana, following the announcement of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) that it has approved “in principle” a resolution authorizing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for alleviating severe forms of epilepsy.

"The DDB move proves the law being proposed in the House of Representatives is unnecessary. There are more important proposed legislations that our honorable counterparts at the HOR should spend their time on. I hope they give priority to measures that will have more impact on the most number of our countrymen," Sotto said in a statement.

Besides, he said the use of cannabis for medical purposes is already authorized under the country's Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, which sets down the policy that "the government shall aim to achieve a balance in the national drug control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated with adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs."

Sotto said the policy is implemented through a circular issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing the guidelines for the issuance of a "compassionate special permit."

The DDB is considering the use of cannabidiol, one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in marijuana, for the treatment of certain rare forms of epilepsy like Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet Syndrome.

The proposed regulation was finalized in consultation with experts from the academe, professional medical associations, Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The regulation has supposedly been “approved in principle” by the DDB but will be confirmed by the board at its next meeting.

The government’s drug policy-making body clarified however that the use, cultivation, and production of marijuana remain illegal in the country, be it for recreational or medical use. (PNA)