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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Duterte supports cannabidiol use for epilepsy 

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President Rodrigo Duterte supports the Dangerous Drugs Board’s (DDB) resolution allowing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) or marijuana for alleviating severe forms of epilepsy.

“Ever since naman iyon ang sinasabi ni Presidente. Kung medical, okay lang sa kaniya (Ever since, that’s what the President said. If it’s for medical purposes, it’s okay with him),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo said Duterte is in favor of similar drugs for medicinal purposes, stressing that it would have to be a “case-to-case” basis.

“Kapag kailangan na kailangan sa ikabubuhay ng isang tao at mayroong scientific findings or medical findings na puwede iyon, hindi siya kukontra. Siguro case-to-case (If it is really necessary for the people and there are scientific findings or medical findings that it could be used, he won’t oppose it. Perhaps it’s case-to-case),” he said.

During a Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) campaign rally in Negros Occidental on March 8 last year, Duterte himself bared he is no longer in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana.

Panelo confirmed that Duterte does not see the legalization of medical marijuana happening within his term citing the risk that people could develop a dependence on the drug.

He said the lack of definitive findings on the effectiveness of medical marijuana could be a reason for Duterte’s reluctance to allow its legalization.

However, he said Duterte may still change his mind if definitive scientific findings confirm its advantages.

In an interview over CNN Philippines’ Newsroom, DDB Chair Catalino Cuy said the approval of the use of CBD does not necessarily increase the chances of the approval of the medical marijuana bill which has been pending in Congress since 2014.

Cuy explained that it could show that there might no longer be a need to legalize marijuana since CBD provides the same effect to patients in need.

He pointed out that the DDB simply reclassified medicines with CBD component in a bid to keep up with the standards of the United States Food and Drug Administration and its 0.1 percent tetrahydrocannabinol threshold which previously allowed CBD use in treatment.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive compound which gives off the "high sensation" in marijuana.

He also clarified that DDB does not have the power to legalize medical marijuana, which remains illegal for both medicinal and recreational use under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act 9165.

The aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs, which has resulted in the arrest of over 200,000 drug personalities and the death of more than 5,000 drug suspects, remains among the Duterte administration’s main thrusts.

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