Bishop urges prudence on medical marijuana legalization

Bishop urges prudence on medical marijuana legalization

By CBCP News

March 14, 2019

Manila, Philippines

Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio

A Catholic bishop urged lawmakers to exercise prudence on the proposal to legalize medical use of cannabis in the country.

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

“There should be some prudent decisions by the authorities because they are there to regulate what is best for humanity,” he said.

He urged authorities to examine the impact of medical marijuana use in the general population and among the youth.

If the measure would benefit patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions, “then let us, by all means, use it,” he 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 is a crucial point of contention.

“This is not also a blanket authority that we can use it 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.

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

Then CBCP President, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, previously said the country does not even need a new legislation because present law allows it already.

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

President Rodrigo Duterte on March 8 said he would not approve the legalization of medical marijuana, a reverse from his previous position.

Duterte warned that drug syndicates could use its legalization to sell prohibited substances.