The United Nations recently voted to downgrade cannabis from its previous status as one among the most dangerous drugs category.
The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ (CND) 53 member states voted 27 to 25 with one abstention, to remove cannabis from the strictest control schedules which discouraged its use even for medical reasons.
Shortly after, Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte filed a bill pushing for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, a move the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) was against.
Villafuerte said that passing the bill would make the “revolutionary medicine” more accessible to Filipinos and assured that it did not go against Duterte’s anti-drug policy since it was CBD that had medicinal properties and was not addictive.
However, the DDB instead urged Congress to craft a law bolstering the government’s drug rehabilitation program.
This reclassification was also rejected by Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
“Cannabis legalization: a small step for dealers; a giant leap for the cartels,” he said. In a tweet, he wrote: “ASEAN is dead set against illegal drugs and legalizing them is just surrender.”
The decision could pave the way for further study on the drug’s medicinal properties, trigger its legalization in other countries and make policymakers reconsider its recreational use.
Before it was reclassified, cannabis was listed alongside addictive opioids as well as heroin.
In January of last year, the World Health Organization had six recommendations on the scheduling of cannabis in UN drug control treaties, one of which pointed out that its non-intoxicating composite, cannabidiol (CBD) is not bound by international controls. It has been widely used in wellness therapies and even grew a billion-dollar industry.
The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration still considers it illegal, however. The body’s director general Eric Domingo said that they are still awaiting the resolution that removes marijuana from the dangerous narcotics list.