PITAHC head defends use of medical marijuana
MANILA, Philippines – The head of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) of the Department of Health on Wednesday defended the use of medical marijuana.
According to Annabelle Pabiona-De Guzman, PITAHC Director General, the government’s anti-drug campaign is focused on recreational marijuana. She noted that in using marijuana for medical purposes, only the oil of the cannabis seeds and not the leaves is used.
“The drug war is against the use of marijuana as a recreational drug but medical cannabis will be used for medical purposes and recreational drug it is the grass that you burn but in the the use of medical marijuana we use the oil from the seeds,” De Guzman told INQUIRER.net in a phone interview.
Cannabis oil, which contains the medically potent properties of the marijuana plant, can be administered orally using a medicine dropper or through a tablet or capsule forms.
De Guzman explained that medical marijuana can be used to alleviate severe pain from cancer and relieve epileptic seizures.
“I’d like to emphasize medical cannabis is the one gathered from the oil from the seeds so we do not use the leaves. It is from the oil from the leaves and the medical uses it can alleviate pain especially severe pain from cancer and other illnesses. It has also been proven to helping in seizures and epilepsy,” she said.
Last Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte is supporting the “controlled” and “regulated use of marijuana for medical purposes.”
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Grace Poe were also open to the legalization of medical marijuana. Lacson and Poe said they considered medical marijuana but raised concerns on its possible abuse.
A bill, the “Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act,” is also pending at the House of Representatives.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, principal author of the measure, cited studies that showed marijuana could be used to control epileptic seizures, pain management in multiple sclerosis and arthritis, treatment of symptoms associated with HIV-AIDS and palliative care in end-stage cancer.
Under the bill, the Department of Health will be the principal regulatory agency in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will monitor and regulate the dispensation of medial marijuana in medical facilities. /muf
‘Just a joke’
When asked on the President’s joke that marijuana “keeps him awake,” De Guzman said it was only a joke, noting that the main effects of medical marijuana is “neurological.”
“President Duterte was just joking when he said that. ‘Yung main effect niya is more on neurological so control of seizures and more of a downer than just a stimulant. […] Often the medical marijuana makes you sleepy or drowsy,” she said.
Duterte, previously claimed that he was taking marijuana to stay awake after complaining about the punishing schedule of last month’s summit in Singapore where reports said that he skipped four key meetings to take power naps.
“It’s a killing activity and I think my age … me, not that much, because I take marijuana to stay awake. Others may no longer take it,” he said. /muf