MANILA—Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said that, even though he is currently not in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, he is keeping an "open mind" on the issue.
“I am not also in favor of legalizing marijuana use now. I'm not in favor, pero I keep an open mind. I’m interested in the subject matter, maganda,” Pimentel told reporters on the sidelines of the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Batangas City.
His stance is consistent with President Rodrigo Duterte's.
In March, Duterte said he would not legalize medical marijuana, after initially expressing openness to sign a proposed measure allowing its use.
“Hinay-hinay din muna tayo because there’s this problem, ’law enforcement problem’. Kung payagan mo ’yan, under the pretext of ano, baka dumami ang mag-plant, instead of medical use, maging recreational use na,” Pimentel added.
House Bill No. 6517, or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which seeks to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, is pending before the House of Representatives.
The measure prescribes rules for the proper use of medical marijuana, including the designation of a qualified medical cannabis physician, a qualified medical cannabis patient who shall be issued an identification card, a qualified medical cannabis caregiver, and a qualified medical cannabis compassionate center.
Last December, Duterte stirred controversy by saying that he sometimes takes the substance to stay awake.
Some doctors have opposed medical cannabis, saying its efficacy has yet to be confirmed. The use of medical marijuana is legal in California and some other parts of the United States, Canada, and Poland, among others.
Last December, Thailand also approved the use of medical marijuana.