Political elites in the Philippines have been quickly reversing their attitudes towards cannabis use. Last year, President Rodrigo Duarte joked about cannabis by saying that it that it helps him stay alert during conferences. Recently, former president and current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said she uses marijuana as a treatment of her chronic neck pain.
Arroyo said that she has a problem with her cervical spine and when she travels to a country which has legalized marijuana she uses it as treatment. However, when she is in the Philippines, she cannot use pot as a treatment. Macapagal — the former president of the Philippines — is among the co-authors of House Bill 6517 also known as the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Bill.
Arroyo told reporters that she authored that bill because she thought that it could assist her and most people, but there was too much controversy surrounding the law from the House and the Senate. Thus, giving reasons to allow the legislative process to take its course.
Arroyo’s neck pain bombshell may be considered as a future catalyst for her fellow legislators, who are still contemplating the passage of the bill during the current congressional session.
Any form of resistance will not face the bill in the presidential palace. Duarte who has a big reputation for his massive battle against small scale drug dealers and users at the beginning of his administration, recently and humorously declared to the press that cannabis helps to keep him active during long press conferences.
When he made this statement, the press became surprised with this seemingly dramatic change in viewpoint, and this led to some questioning about the president’s position on cannabis. According to a presidential spokesperson, Salvador Panelo said, the president already made a declaration that he logically supports the minimal use of marijuana; thus he will favor and sign any bill that matches with his policies.
Arroyo’s HB 6517 would approve the medicinal use of marijuana by permitting adults to use cannabis in different forms except for flower. There have been some arguments over whether the legislation is essential. Senate president Vicente Sotto III specifies that Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Act, says that lawmakers have to acquire a balance in the national drug control program so that individuals with legal medical needs are not prohibited from receiving treatments with sufficient measures of necessary medications, which deals with the utilization of harmful drugs.
Two years ago, the Philippines’ FDA stated that it had been gaining a considerable number of applications for medical marijuana use. The FDA is said to have approved 558 applications by September 2017.
Sotto is still uncertain that the revelations of the present and previous presidents merited brand-new legislation with such a pre-existing scheme. According to him, the state shouldn’t pass a law since it is allowed already.
The legalization of Cannabis in the Philippines has been favored by influential people including Miss Universe Catriona Gray.