More studies needed

December 18, 2018

We are all for the benign and beneficial use of marijuana.

And the winning statement of the new Filipina Miss Universe bolsters the clamor from the general public for the medical use of cannabis to treat certain diseases.

The debate over the issue has been going on for the longest time, pitting medical experts, health advocates, terminally ill patients, lawmakers, and other parties against one another.

But a national consensus on legal marijuana use is far from being achieved.

Thankfully the newly-crowned Filipina Miss Universe may have shifted the national deliberation into high gear.

Further studies and consultation are needed on the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, the National Police (PNP) said Monday.

"(First), we have to consult this with experts. Kung tayo lang magsabi, baka naman magka-problema tayo (If we are the only ones who will say anything, we might have problems) later. We have to consult with experts, mga doctors particularly DOH [Department of Health] kung dapat ipasok natin 'yan," PNP chief, Oscar Albayalde told reporters in a press conference on Monday.

Albayalde made the statement in response to Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray's remarks expressing support for the legalization of medical marijuana during the first question-and-answer portion of the pageant in Bangkok, Thailand.

The PNP chief further explained the government has to consider serious implications of this measure.

"Titignan muna natin kapag naging batas na 'yan (We'll see that when it becomes a law). As of this time, hindi natin alam kung ano ang magiging epekto niyan (We do not know what will be its effects). What we have to protect is the abuse. We need to have a strict implementation of the law and palagi natin tinitignan baka maging prone ito sa abuse, ma-oversupply (We always look at the possibility that it will be prone to abuse or oversupply). 'Yun ang dapat ma-safe guard natin (We must safeguard that)," he said.

Gray's support for the legalization of medical marijuana earned praises from various health advocates and lawmakers.

Currently, House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act is pending before the House of Representatives. It seeks to legalize medical marijuana for patients suffering from debilitating conditions such as seizures and multiple sclerosis.

At present, marijuana is classified as a dangerous and illegal drug under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.