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Philippines

U.S. Citizen caught in anti-drug sweeps in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has been waging a blood-drenched campaign against illegal drugs that many human rights advocates say has reached the point of crimes against humanity. It only rarely makes headlines here in the U.S., but the situation is currently set to escalate yet further.

Analysis optimistic about progress in the Asian cannabis market

Cannabis is deeply rooted in the continent of Asia, where a cultural, medicinal and spiritual relationship with the plant stretches back into remote antiquity. The harsh prohibition regimes in many Asian countries are likely to be pried open over the next years, allowing for fast growth of a regulated cannabis market.

Another Southeast Asian country OKs medical marijuana

One of the last countries you’d expect to reform its marijuana laws just legalized medical cannabis, writes Calvin Hughes. Earlier this week, the Philippines – which is notorious for taking a hardline approach to the War on Drugs – voted overwhelmingly to support medical marijuana.

Former President of the Philippines reveals she uses medical marijuana

The former president and current House Speaker, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is also the co-sponsor of a new medical cannabis bill.

The Philippines has seen a rapid reversal in attitudes towards cannabis among its political elite. President Rodrigo Duarte joked that the stuff helps him stay alert last year. On Tuesday, former president and current House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo hyped marijuana’s power to vanquish her persistent neck pain.

Philippines president promises to sign medical marijuana bill after Miss Universe supports the issue

Over the weekend Catriona Gray, the Miss Universe contestant representing the Philippines, made headlines for saying she supports medical marijuana during the interview portion of the beauty pageant. And now that Gray has won the Miss Universe competition, the most powerful politicians in her home country are now supporting medical marijuana as well, writes Joseph Misulonas.

Miss Universe 2018 voices support for medical marijuana in the Philippines

Miss Universe is taking a stance marked different from the Philippines’ official policy, writes Calvin Hughes.

Rodrigo Duterte jokes about using cannabis when his drug war has killed thousands

The global War on Drugs may have just hit an all-time low for hypocrisy. The president of the Philippines, whose government killed thousands of citizens in a campaign to halt illegal drug sales, just joked about using cannabis to stay alert on the job.

During an event held to recognize excellence within the Department of Foreign Affairs, Rodrigo Duterte bantered with the audience about how he manages his hectic schedule. “It’s a killing activity,” he said. “But at my age, I am not really bothered because I take marijuana to stay awake.”

The New York Times reported that the comment was met by “bursts of laughter.”

Philippines: For the first time, House tackles medical marijuana bill

For the first time in years, the proposed law that would allow the use of marijuana extracts for medicinal purposes is being discussed by lawmakers in plenary. The House of Representatives started tackling the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Bill of Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III on Wednesday night.

During the debates, Albano said there have been research done in Israel, Spain, other parts of Europe and the United States attesting to the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

He said his bill seeks to allow the use of medical marijuana for those suffering from debilitating diseases like epilepsy under strict regulation by the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.

Philippines: House panel approves medical marijuana

Advocates of medical marijuana are in high spirits after the health committee of the House of Representatives endorsed a bill allowing the use of cannabis to treat chronic or debilitating health conditions.

The House panel on Monday unanimously approved the committee draft report on the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act following extensive consultations with patients, advocacy groups, health-care practitioners and experts in the regulation of controlled substances, according to Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, the principal author of the measure.

“I feel high. There is high morale because finally the bill will reach plenary,” Albano told the Inquirer.

Philippines: Duterte Favors Medical Marijuana

Last year, shortly after winning the election, President Rodrigo Duterte said in several press interviews that he was personally in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.

“Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine,” he replied when asked by a TV reporter to comment on the subject.

“There are medicines being developed, or are now in the market, that contain marijuana for medical purposes,” he said.

Mr. Duterte, however, said he would push for stricter regulation to ensure that medicinal marijuana would be offered only to those who really need it.

He also said he was opposed to the use of marijuana as a recreational drug.

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Medical Cannabis in The Philippines

Over the past year, much has been written about the horrific consequences of the Philippines’ war on drugs, led by its frankly psychopathic president, Rodrigo Duterte.

Thousands have died, gunned down in the streets by police and masked vigilantes, simply for having anything to do with illegal drugs. The reign of terror that has engulfed the country has turned the backstreets and slums of Manila into a war zone, leaving everybody wondering just how it will all end.

A few months ago, it produced a paradox – it emerged that the instigator of all of this death and destruction was himself – allegedly – a drug abuser. Duterte, it was claimed, was hooked on Fentanyl. Now, just as the violence is being ramped up once again, another paradox has emerged. Earlier this month, just one day after the Filipino parliament approved a third and final reading of a Bill which will reinstate the death penalty for drug-related offences, the House Committee on Health endorsed another Bill which, if passed into law, will legalise and regulate the use of medical cannabis.

According to the Asian Correspondent , House Bill 180

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

The Bill’s sponsor, Rep. Seth Jalosjos, has said that legalising medical cannabis will “benefit thousands of patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases” whilst its author, Rodito Albano, is adamant that the Bill can pass even with Duterte in charge. “I have high hopes under the Duterte administration that this measure would be enacted into law,” he told the PhilStar :

Finally, there is hope for our people, especially our children, who suffer from medical conditions like epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosisUnlike many medical professionals, President Duterte has an open mind on medical cannabis.

He may have a point. Duterte is on record as saying, whilst he was Mayor of Davao, “Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine now. There are drugs right now being developed or already in the market that (have) marijuana as a component.”

However, the lawmakers are clearly not blind to the problems that this new law could create. For example, it seems unlikely that many medical cannabis users are going to want to be identified as such in a country where simple possession of cannabis for recreational use can lead to life imprisonment. In an effort to ease those worries, the Bill’s authors insist that it would provide a high level of confidentiality in order to protect patients from discrimination and harm.

It remains to be seen, however, whether that will be enough to convince people to enrol in the new system, should the Bill become law. Despite Duterte’s apparent acceptance of the medical benefits of cannabis use, he is still a highly unstable leader who has, since day one of his presidency, waged all out war on drugs and drug users. In this case, cannabis users may be justified in their paranoia, especially when they see what else Duterte has said about cannabis, such as this quote, taken from the same interview in which he appeared to back medical use of the drug.

“If you just smoke it like a cigarette, I will not allow it, ever.” he said “It remains to be a prohibited item and there’s always a threat of being arrested. If you choose to fight the law enforcement agency, you die.”

Given that the President’s war on drugs has so far been carried out in large part by vigilantes, reacting to his clearly expressed desire to kill all drug users, it is hardly surprising, given comments like the one above, that medical cannabis users are cautious. Masked men on motorbikes roaming the streets looking for drug users to murder with impunity don’t tend to stop to check whether their victim is carrying an identification card.

Inside an overcrowded Filipino prison cell.

Clearly then, this proposed new law is a very long way from perfect. In fact, whilst Duterte’s drug war continues to rage, it is essentially useless to those who genuinely need it.

What it does highlight, however, is the level at which the medical use of cannabis is now accepted throughout the world. Even in a country that wants to murder all drug dealers and put regular pot smokers in prison for life, cannabis’ medical efficacy is acknowledged by the highest power in the land.

All of which makes the insistence of the UK government that cannabis is a harmful drug with no known medical uses seem increasingly absurd and inhumane. We may not lock up cannabis users for life, or gun dealers down in the streets in this country, but when we’ve been made to look uncaring towards some of the most vulnerable members of our society by a country that does, it is time to stop pretending we’re so much better than them, and to change course immediately.

Medical Cannabis in The Philippines Over the past year, much has been written about the horrific consequences of the Philippines’ war on drugs, led by its frankly psychopathic president, Rodrigo