The Technical Working Group (TWG) on the medical cannabis legalization based in the University of the Philippines-Manila as well as other concerned faculty members from the state university, are strongly opposed to the proposed legalization of marijuana for medical use.

Their basis for objection is the limited evidence on the efficacy, while the evidence of its harmful effects are strong.    

Acute cannabis use, the group said, can lead to increased risk for motor vehicular accidents if driving under the influence. Chronic use, meanwhile, can lead to impairment of cognition and neuro-development.

Chronic users are also at risk for psychosis, dependence, addiction and substance abuse.

In spite the objection, the UP Manila group did acknowledge that cannabis may be of help for certain conditions, including painful spasm in multiple sclerosis and management of treatment-resistant epilepsy among the paediatric age group.

“We recognize that some patients who do not respond to standard treatment may benefit from Medical Cannabis,” the group said in a statement.

“There is no need for any new legislation to allow access to Cannabis as there are already existing national policies with mechanisms that will access Cannabis for medical use in a research setting,” the group added.

Thus, House Bills 6517, 180 and 4477 – all pertaining to the medical cannabis use - are unnecessary. These bills threaten the public health and safety of Filipinos, according to the group.

Instead, they are proposing long-term, legitimate research studies to be conducted by the Department of health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration, and Dangerous Drug Board and other related agencies and specialty societies.

Further, the experts are proposing the creation of a Medical Cannabis Study Group by the National Institutes of Health to lead the local research on medical cannabis.

For now, qualified patients accessing medical cannabis should only be allowed under research settings and cultivation of medical cannabis should only be done in government-controlled research facilities.

“This is to ensure patient safety, until we get strong evidence of efficacy and safety of Medical cannabis preparation from clinical trials that will meet FDA approval for specific indications,” the group said. MIMS

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