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Medical Marijuana: Here Are The Things That You Should Know

In popular culture, it goes by many names. Weed, cannabis, pot or marijuana. These are some of the most
common terms used today to refer to this controversial drug that originates from the cannabis plant.

The term cannabis is taken from the plant’s actual Latin name (genus Cannabis) but the others are nicknames that
have become part of popular culture with marijuana being the most well-known today. We will use both cannabis
and marijuana in this article depending on the context it is discussed.

Over the years it’s quite astounding how cannabis is slowly getting detached from the dangerous drug segment.
While it isn’t completely classified as a legal drug, there seems to be a global shift on perspective as societies from
all over the world loosen up on their drug policy on cannabis.

In recent years, the medicinal properties of cannabis have been gaining a lot of attention and acceptance, which led
to legalization in more countries both for recreational and medical use. In the US, more and more states have
legalized medical marijuana to treat pain and illnesses, and many seem to be interested to follow suit.

The Philippines is also about to get onboard the growing list of countries willing to loosen up their drug policy on
cannabis. Cannabis has properties known to be therapeutic to many illnesses and this has been the driving factor
of many lawmakers including the President to support legalizing cannabis but limited to medical use.

What is medical marijuana?

Marijuana is a combination of shredded leaves, stems and flower buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Marijuana can
be smoked, eaten, vaporized, brewed and even taken topically, but primarily many people smoke it for recreation.
Medical marijuana, on the other hand, is the use of marijuana’s therapeutic properties to treat known illnesses. The
end product is practically the same as its recreational use, but regulated and limited solely to medical purposes.

Cannabis better known as marijuana contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Each one
has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main
chemicals used in medicine. While these two are the main culprit for that “feeling” that marijuana users get when
smoking this, they can, however, be therapeutic to the body.

How does it affect your body?

The human body already generates chemicals that have marijuana-like effects which play a role in the inflammatory
and pain process, appetite, and movement. When cannabinoids (the active chemical in marijuana) enters the body,
it affects the central nervous system aka the brain function.

The cannabinoid will target the pleasure center of the brain, much like how alcohol and other prohibited drugs
function when they enter our body. Depending on the quantity, quality, and method of consumption, the chemicals
will stimulate the human brain to release dopamine – a chemical substance from the brain that’s responsible for
your mood, memory, appetite, sensation, etc. High levels of dopamine will basically elevate all these internal
activities in our body.

While the total impact of cannabis can vary from person to person, it’s a well-known fact that the primary effects of
cannabis are relaxation and mood elation. These two effects are basically what medical marijuana is mainly
leveraging on in treating certain illnesses that are mostly associated to pain and a person’s neurological condition.

How does marijuana alleviate an illness?

While there is still much research needed to substantiate the benefits of medical marijuana further and to regulate
its side-effects, the good outweighs the bad (we’ll get to that later).

The consideration being given to medical marijuana can be attributed to these therapeutic effects:

 Reduce anxiety
 Reduce inflammation and relieve pain
 Control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy
 Kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth
 Relax tight muscles in people with Multiple Sclerosis

 Stimulate appetite and improve weight gain in people with cancer and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency

What are the conditions prescribed under medical marijuana?

Its ability to reduce chronic pain, nausea, and vomiting due to chemotherapy and spasticity (tight or stiff muscles)
make it a good treatment option for the following conditions:

 Alzheimer’s disease
 Appetite loss
 Cancer
 Crohn’s disease
 Eating disorders such as anorexia
 Epilepsy/ Seizure
 Glaucoma
 Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
 Multiple sclerosis
 Muscle spasms
 Nausea
 Pain
 Wasting syndrome (cachexia)

What are the side-effects?

According to healthline, marijuana smoke is made up of toxic chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, which
is pretty much the same as your everyday cigarette. This can irritate your airways system and the lungs. You’re
basically exposing yourself to the same risk when you’re smoking a cigarette.

The THC, the main psychoactive agent in marijuana can enter your lungs, your bloodstream, and then into your
brain. Its effects can vary depending on who you are, the potency of the cannabis, and how you take it (smoke it or
eat it).

While it can lead to relaxation and heightened senses, it can also lead to increased heart rate (which increases
your risk of heart attack if you have a cardiovascular condition), anxiety, paranoia, and sometimes hallucination.

Medical marijuana in the Philippines

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives has approved the House Bill 6517, an act providing compassionate
and right of access to Medical cannabis and expanding research into its medicinal properties.

The measure limits the use of medical marijuana to a debilitating medical condition, which was defined by the
measure as any diseases that produce one or more of the following condition:

1. Cachexia or wasting syndrome

2. Severe chronic pain
3. Severe nausea
4. Seizures including those characteristics of epilepsy
5. Severe or persistent muscle spasms including those associated with multiple sclerosis
6. Glaucoma
7. Damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
8. Epilepsy
9. HIV positive or AIDs
10. Post-traumatic stress disorder
11. Rheumatoid arthritis or similar chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder
12. Diseases requiring admission into hospice care
13. Other debilitating medical condition or its treatment subsequently identified by the Department of Health as
recommended by a panel of doctors constituted for this purpose.

Financial implications of legal cannabis industry

Forbes Magazine reported that in less than a decade, the legal cannabis industry will see worldwide spending hit
US$57 billion by 2027.

Citing research from ArcView Market Research, among the largest growth spread is likely to come from outside the
United States, from $52 million spent in 2017 to a projected $2.5 billion in 2027.

While the US and Canada started the ball rolling by creating medical-only cannabis regulations, other countries in
South America, European and East Asian continents have started to weigh in on the health and economic
implications of the legal cannabis industry.

Much governmental legislation at federal and state level will need to be aligned to allow the legal import, cultivation,
and distribution of medical marijuana to be standardized with proper safeguards in place.

While the legal framework has yet to be ironed out, the rights to access this treatment from the individual’s
perspective is clear.

In order for you to utilize this unconventional form of treatment, you must be a qualified medical cannabis patient,
diagnosed by a certifying physician. You must comply with the Department of Health (DOH) documentation
requirements to be granted an identification card which is proof that you’re authorized to use medical cannabis.

While the bill legalizing medical marijuana in the country hasn’t been enacted into law yet, its full realization doesn’t
seem out of reach. With the President and lawmakers expressing their support towards the measure and a
population yearning for this kind of progressive approach in medical science, this will be one a landmark bill that’s
going to be a first in Southeast Asia.

DOH says PH may have hard time legalizing medical marijuana

MANILA - The Department of Health said Wednesday the Philippines may have a hard time legalizing the use of medical
marijuana because of existing regulations.

Speaking to reporters, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the government could not go full blast in studying the
beneficial qualities of medical marijuana as there is no law listing it as a product that may be registered with the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA).

Marijuana is classified in the Philippines as an illegal drug.

Domingo said the Dangerous Drugs Board, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Philippine Institute for
Traditional Alternative Healthcare were studying the proposal to make marijuana legal for medical use.

"Kaya lang (but) we cannot go full blast into studying the actual product kasi (because) it is not listed as registrable product
with FDA at this time. Walang batas (there is no law) listing it as a registrable product,” he said.

He said government cannot spend funds to undertake research on a product that may not be registered for consumption in the

"At this time, I think 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.

No less than former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attested to the effectiveness of medical
marijuana when she bared that she uses it to relieve her neck pain whenever she is in a country where it is legal to do so.

Arroyo suffers from a condition called multilevel cervical spondylosis, a condition characterized by neck pain.

 READ: Arroyo says she uses marijuana-based pain patch for cervical spine

Malacañang earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte will support any bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana.

 Palace: Duterte willing to sign any medical marijuana bill

House Bill No. 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which seeks to legalize marijuana for medicinal
purposes, is pending before the House of Representatives.

The measure prescribes rules for the proper use of medical marijuana including the designation of a qualified medical cannabis
physician, a qualified medical cannabis patient who shall be issued an identification card, a qualified medical cannabis
caregiver, and a qualified medical cannabis compassionate center.

In December, Duterte stirred controversy by saying that he sometimes takes the substance to stay awake.

 Joke only: Duterte says he takes marijuana

Some doctors have opposed medical cannabis, saying its efficacy has yet to be confirmed. The use of medical marijuana is
legal in California and some other parts of the United States, Canada, and Poland, among others.

Just last month, Thailand also approved the use of medical marijuana.

Fact check: Is medical marijuana already allowed in the Philippines?

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - December 18, 2018 - 5:30pm
MANILA, Philippines — There is no need for a law legalizing medical marijuana in the Philippines as it is already
allowed, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday.

"That is what is in the law already. It is allowed already, there is just a process they should know about,"

The Senate leader cited Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which repealed
the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

Section 2 of RA 9165 states that, "the government shall pursue an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the
trafficking and use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances through an integrated system of planning,
implementation and enforcement of anti-drug abuse policies, programs, and projects.

"The government shall however 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."

Compassionate use
Sotto, principal author of this law, stressed that use of medical marijuana is allowed under "compassionate use."

The term "medical marijuana" however was not explicitly mentioned in any of the sections of RA 9165.

Sotto also cited a special permit from the Food and Drugs Authority allowing access to drugs and medicines not
registered in the Philippines.

"In other words, in the Dangerous Drugs Act, combined with the FDA circular, we have a 'compassionate use'
provision," the senator said.

According to Department of Health Administrative Order No. 4 s. 1992, the Bureau of Food and Drugs—the
agency that preceded the FDA—"recognizes the need for drugs and devices product/preparation which are not
registered or are in the process of registration in the Philippines by patients who are terminally or seriously ill."

The administrative order allows the agency to issue permits "granting a Specialized Institution and Specialty
Society the privilege to avail of an unregistered drug and device product through a certain licensed establishment
for certain kind/type of patients, specific volume and period."

The permit is allowed for patients with HIV-AIDS, cancer, or "life-threatening conditions." Doctors and specialists
requesting the special permit are required to include the estimated amount of the unregistered drug the patient will
need, the "licensed drug/device establishment through which the unregistered drug may be procured" and "the
names and address of the specialists qualified and authorized to use the product."

Since marijuana is illegal in the Philippines, there are no registered dispensaries or outlets to get them from.

Under the DOH aministrative order, the drug establishment identified in the application for a permit "shall secure
clearance to import from BFAD and its applications" and submit "a certificate that the product is currently registered
in the country of origin" and "a true copy of the CSP issued to the Specialized Institution (SI)/Specialty Society

Applications for compassionate use permits

Former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial had earlier confirmed that the FDA grants exemptions for the
compassionate use of marijuana.

In October 2016, Ubial said patients may request for a special permit from the FDA to use marijuana for medical

READ: ‘Marijuana’ pinapayagan ng FDA - DOH

An October 2017 report from CNN Philippines showed that the FDA has received an average of 50 applications a
month for compassionate use special permits.

According to the CNN Philippines report, the FDA has received only one application to import cannabis oil since the
permits were first issued in 1992.

Possession of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil is illegal in the Philippines but, under the circular, patients who
need cannabis oil for medical purposes may seek a special permit for compassionate use.

Sotto, an anti-drug advocate, once threatened Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that he would object to the
latter's confirmation if he would insist on allowing the use of marijuana for other purposes.
Duque has been supportive of House Bill 180, or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act,
which the House committee on health approved in September 2017.

Sotto's comments about the legalization of medical marijuana came after Miss Universe Catriona Gray spoke on
the issue on Monday.

During the question and answer portion of the pageant, the Philippine bet was asked for her opinion on the
regularization of marijuana.
"I’m for it being used for medical use, but not so for recreational use," Gray said.

Medicinal marijuana in PH?

Medicinal marijuana in PH?

November 24, 2018

STUDIES and researches are now being done by the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care
(PITAHC) for the use of medicinal marijuana.

As medicinal marijuana had been proven abroad to have a good action against pain especially for patients with
cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease, PITAHC Director General Doctor Annabelle Pabiona-De Guzman said
there is already a bill under study for the compassionate use of Cannabis in the Philippines.

She said they hope the bill can go through Congress but expects to have a complication or a problem when it
reaches the Senate.

“We already have exploratory studies. The first study that we did was looking for patent. We found out that there
are international patents already because in certain parts in the U.S. and some European countries it is already
used for medicinal purposes. We cannot apply specific patent to the Philippines because what will be used will be
the same as what is being used abroad,” said Pabiona-De Guzman during the Connect press forum yesterday at
the SM Lanang Premier.

She added they have already partnered with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) and the Dangerous
Drug Board (DDB) in coming with another study to document the use of marijuana as a recreational drug in the

The director general underscored that recreational marijuana is different from medicinal marijuana. The former uses
burnt leaves and smokes it unlike medicinal marijuana which uses oil extracted from the plant seeds instead.

A study conducted by PITAHC, still in partnership with Pdea and DDB, focuses on the propagation and the
cultivation of the proper kind of medical Cannabis that will be the best for health purposes.

She clarified that their studies are all on paper and they have yet to conduct demo use of medicinal cannabis.

They are also hopeful that the bill will be pushed through as it will also give authority to regulate and make sure the
marijuana is not abused only because the medicinal function is approved.

“Also, what we are pushing is the use of the cold-pressed seed oil for medicinal purposes and not the leaves. It is
helpful for those who are sick and in pain. So we at PITAHC are supportive of this,” she added.

House passes bill legalizing medical marijuana

The bill's approval on final reading is not surprising – Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo uses marijuana patches to
ease pain when she's in countries where it is legal

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives thinks it is high time for the Philippines to legalize and
regulate the medical use of cannabis or marijuana.

Voting 163-5-3, legislators approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill 6517 or the Act Providing Compassionate
and Right of Access to Medical Cannabis and Expanding Research into its Medicinal Properties and for Other
Purposes on Tuesday, January 29.

The bill would make it legal to use marijuana to benefit patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.

HB 6517 defines this as any disease causing wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures
including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

The passage of the medical marijuana bill at the House is not surprising, as Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
herself backs it. Arroyo admitted that she uses marijuana patches to ease pain whenever she visits a country where
medical cannabis is legal. (READ: Legalizing medical marijuana: 'Listen to patients’)

The former president-turned-Pampanga 2nd District representative suffers from multiple cervical spondylosis or the
degeneration of the intervertebral discs, causing pain in the spine

Duterte says he'll never legalize medical marijuana

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte gave a resounding no to any moves to legalize medical
marijuana, a position different from the one he took in his first year as Chief Executive.

"I do not intend to legalize it. Ayaw ko. Gawin mo lang excuse 'yan eh, tatanim ka ng iyo. Sasabihin mo medicinal
man kaya ito," said Duterte on Friday, March 8. (I don't want to. You will just use that as an excuse to plant your
own. You will just say, this is just for medicinal purposes.)

The President, who is waging a bloody campaign against illegal drugs, said he does not read research about the
benefits of medical marijuana.

"Hindi ako pumayag (I did not allow it). Not in my time, not in my time. I disapprove. Some other president maybe. I
am ignorant of that kind of research, I must admit I do not read it," he said.

Duterte's hardened stance against medical marijuana is at odds with his views on the matter back in 2016, the first
year of his administration.

In October that year, he had expressed openness to the idea.

When asked by Al Jazeera about legalizing medical marijuana, Duterte said, "I'm not the authority for that. It’s the
Food and Drug Administration. If it's certified by the government and it's good, fine, no problem."

In December 2018, Malacañang reiterated the President's 2016 position, saying, "He is in favor of limited use of
marijuana.... Logically, then, he will support and sign any bill that would be consistent with his stand."

It was that month as well when Duterte said he uses marijuana to stay awake during strenuous activities – a remark
which the President eventually insisted was just a joke.

In 2017, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical
Cannabis Act, which seeks to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. – Rappler.com