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Bishop calls for prudence in bid to legalize cannabis for medical use

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By Leslie Ann Aquino

Lawmakers were urged by a Catholic prelate to exercise prudence on the proposal to legalize the medical use of cannabis in the country.

Newly appointed military Bishop Oscar Florencio said different studies must be considered carefully in tackling the issue of medical marijuana.

President Duterte earlier said that he would not approve the legalization of medical marijuana as drug syndicates could use its legalization to sell prohibited substances.

“There should be some prudent decisions by the authorities because they are there to regulate what is best for humanity,” Florencio said in a CBCP News post.

He said authorities should examine the impact of medical marijuana use on the general population particularly on the youth.

If the measure would benefit patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, “then let us, by all means, use it,” Florencio said.

However, the bishop also warned of the possible misuse of marijuana once the bill is passed in Congress.

In cannabis policy debates, whether legalization leads to abuse or not is a crucial point of contention.

“This is not a blanket authority that we can use without the rule of prudence,” Florencio added.

In a pastoral guidance issued in 2015, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines did not issue a blanket rejection of marijuana for medical purposes.

The bishops said the Church allows the “compassionate” use of narcotics to help terminally ill patients.

But the bishops said that the use of medical marijuana should only be considered when all other options have been explored.

Former CBCP president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, had said the country does not even need a new legislation because the present law already allows it.

He cited provisions of RA 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, that defends the use of prohibited drugs in exceptional cases.

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