Philippine House of Representatives Joint Committee Passes Medical Cannabis Bill

In response, numerous Philippine medical associations and government figures have released statements about their support or opposition of medical cannabis.

The recent passage of a medical cannabis bill in the Philippine House of Representatives has many organizations and agencies expressing their support or opposition for legalization.

On Feb. 6, the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) published a letter of opposition. The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) represents an estimated 98,202 physicians, which includes 121 societies, 8 specialty divisions, 96 specialty societies, and 50 affiliate societies. The letter includes a coalition of 21 medical organizations and associations in total.

“The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) Coalition recognizes that the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs recently reclassified cannabis (marijuana) from Schedule IV to Schedule I of the Dangerous Drugs List—a move that recognized the plant’s medicinal value,” the letter began. “However, the UN Commission also emphasizes that cannabis is still under restriction on its use for non-medical and non-scientific purposes. That being said, the PMA coalition therefore strongly opposes all legislative bills intending to legalize cannabis (marijuana) if it is not for medicinal value as approved by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration.”

The letter explains the harms of “unproven medical indications” in connection to cannabis consumption, with an example of how cannabis can negatively affect the brain of a developing fetus in a pregnant person. The letter also claimed that children are at “significant risk” when exposed to cannabis, citing Sec. 12 Article III of the Philippine Constitution, which protects “the life of the unborn from conception to birth” as well as the life of the mother.

The PMA referenced a statement from the Committee of European Doctors from November 2023, which claims that cannabis is “a hazardous and addictive drug and serious public health concern, and therefore discourages cannabis use.”

The PMA also listed 10 statements regarding its stance on cannabis, including a statement that it does support medical cannabis if it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and calls for more research overall. “We strongly support the conduct of local scientific studies on cannabis for medicinal purposes in legitimate research institutions under strict Institutional Review Board-approved research protocols to address the existing knowledge hap on cannabis efficacy and safety,” the PMA wrote. Another point claims that there is a “clear trend towards the harmful effects [of cannabis] that outweigh the purported benefits.” 

“To stand against the legalization of cannabis is to stand for a safer, bright future for all Filipino children. Let our position be clear and our voice unwavering; we must prioritize the well-being of our youth, ensuring they grow up in an environment free from the dangers posed by readily available marijuana,” the letter concluded.

According to, a joint panel of the Philippine House of Representatives approved a medical cannabis bill on Feb. 7. While the bill wouldn’t remove cannabis from the country’s list of dangerous substances, it would require the creation of a Medical Cannabis Office, which would be the “primary regulatory body for medical cannabis under the direct supervision and control of the Department of Health.” Additionally, it would allow patients to use medical cannabis if they have specific qualifying conditions, and cannabis would only be obtainable through “licensed hospitals, clinics, drugstores, or other medical facilities” after being prescribed by an accredited physician.

FDA Director General Samuel Zacate spoke at a press briefing on Feb. 13, confirming that he supports medical cannabis legalization. “Filipinos must have a wide range of therapeutic indications or drugs of choice. So ako [sic] for the record […] is very much open for marijuana as long as it has been streamlined and does not pose harm to the public,” Zacate said, according to The Philippine Star, although he did say the decision is “subject to the wisdom of the legislative [branch].”

According to Republic Asia, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) released its own statement regarding medical and/or cannabis legalization on Feb. 14. “The DOH recognizes efforts to legalize medical cannabis use, which is distinct from recreational marijuana use. Any such initiatives should be based on the best available scientific evidence, weighed for cost-effectiveness and public health impact,” said the DOH. “Legislation should also consider the regulatory capacity of all government agencies that will be involved, should there be approval.”

The DOH confirmed that it does not support cannabis cultivation or the manufacturing of cannabis products. “The DOH reminds the general public that any use of marijuana at this point is still punishable by law, unless granted a compassionate special permit (CSP) signed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General that would allow its use and importation in the country,” the DOH continued.

Nearby in Thailand, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2022, legislators have drafted a bill to ban adult-use consumption. The country’s government welcomed public opinions in January, and are now on the cusp of pushing prohibition legislation onto parliament. The new draft would criminalize cannabis “for entertainment or pleasure” with a 60,000 baht fine (or roughly $1,700 USD). Medical cannabis would still be permitted, according to a report from Associated Press.

  1. “To stand against the legalization of cannabis is to stand for a safer, bright future for all Filipino children.”
    Normally i’d be quoting the standard Simpsons joke:
    “Won’t someone please think of the children”
    Which is justified in ‘Western’ countries like the USA where for the most part children (& i’m not talking teenagers here), for the most part just don’t have the desire to consume or access to the money required to buy drugs.
    HOWEVER the Philippines is truly in ‘the dark ages’ on so many issues that it gets complicated, because very young Philippine children are easily seen publicly smoking Tobacco and even consuming Alcohol; both of which are more addictive as well as toxic than Cannabis. This is in part due to very low taxes on both (the government loves allows their promotion because they literally are invested in the companies selling death) as well as a lack of law enforcement with the police hardly ‘batting an eyelid’ to a child smoking tobacco, but will virtually crucify an adult for smoking a joint.
    Remember law enforcement murders a lot of people in the Philippines for smuggling Cannabis!

    I think the greatest irony of all is that East Asia’s anti-drug policies were directly learned/copied from the ‘west’, something not admitted or discussed by the usually very corrupt people in power who love to use anti-drug propaganda in a political sense by saying they need to attack ‘crime’ more to distract from how sh*t they’re running the country and stealing the profits of their nation for their own bank accounts – the Philippines has only recently ‘elected’ Bongbong Marcos the son of the incredibly corrupt Ferdinand Marcos who became incredibly wealthy literally stealing hundreds of millions from some of the poorest people on the planet.

  2. It had slipped my mind that the Philippines is a signatory to the repugnant neo-fascist international anti-drug treaty that is the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

    That ‘treaty’ was drafted and figuratively shoved down the throats (with economic threats) of most countries of the world in 1988 by none other than the USA headed by Ronald Reagan – the man who promoted tobacco to americans, yet stated “Marijuana is probably the most dangerous drug in America today” and “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast”.

    It isn’t just The Simpsons and conservative ignoramuses that suggest ‘children’ are at great risk from drugs; in fact in the U.N. Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances it states:

    “[C]hildren are used in many parts of the world as an illicit drug consumers market and for purposes of illicit production, distribution and trade in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which entails a danger of incalculable gravity.”

    I’ll sum up my opinion of that statement: a load of crap.

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