DOH hands tied over study of medical marijuana

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH), and its regulatory and enforcement arm, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cannot go full-blast in studying the benefits of medical marijuana because it has yet to be considered a “registrable product” in the country, a health official said Wednesday.

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo made this remark a day after House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vouched for the effectiveness of marijuana for medicinal purposes, admitting that she herself had used it in a country where it was allowed to treat her spinal condition.

Domingo said the hands of both the DOH and FDA are tied because Congress has yet to pass a law enabling government agencies to conduct clinical studies on medical marijuana.

“We cannot go full-blast into studying the actual product kasi (because) it’s not listed as a registrable product with FDA at this time. Walang batas (There is no law) listing it as a registrable product,” Domingo said in a press briefing in Malacañan Palace.

Hindi rin naman ang gobyernong maaaring gumastos ng pera para mag-research sa isang produktong di naman pwede irehistro sa Pilipinas (The government cannot spend its own resources to conduct research on a product that is not registered in the Philippines),” he added.

Domingo, however, bared that other agencies, including the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care are already studying the benefits of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

He said that the DOH and FDA will have to wait for an enabling law before they can conduct their own clinical studies on medical marijuana.

“FDA will have to wait for an enabling law that will allow it to be a registrable product before we can actually consider pouring some resources into clinical researches for it,” he added.

There is a current measure at the House that seeks to legalize cannabis strictly for therapeutic purposes – House Bill No. 6517, otherwise known as the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.

Once enacted, medical marijuana should be subject to stringent government regulation under DOH supervision.

Earlier, Malacañang reiterated that the President is in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, so long as it is regulated.

“He (Duterte) said for purposes of medicine to heal, he’s in favor, but not for use other than that,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said. P
 Azer Parrocha / PNA –

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