By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

(File photo)

MANILA – Any use of marijuana is still punishable by law, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

The DOH made this remark after the House Committees on Dangerous Drugs and on Health approved last week a bill that allows the use of medical marijuana.

“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 signed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General that would allow its use and importation in the country,” the DOH said in a statement.

“We shall keep the public updated should there be developments in the use of medical cannabis,” it added.

The DOH said it recognizes the efforts of certain groups to legalize “medical cannabis use” which is different from recreational marijuana use.

The agency said any initiatives should be based on the best available scientific evidence, weighed for cost-effectiveness and public health impact.

“Legislation should also consider the regulatory capacity of all government agencies that will be involved should there be approval,” the DOH said.

“However, the DOH does not support either the cultivation of cannabis plants or the manufacture of the cannabis product,” it added.

The Philippine Medical Association said the use of marijuana for unproven medical indications is harmful.

It said the legalization of cannabis will send a wrong message, especially to our youth, that the government considers cannabis as a safe substance, exposing citizens to unnecessary harm. (PNA)