MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte, known for his all-consuming hatred of drugs, said he is open to the legalization of medical marijuana if deemed beneficial by the proper authorities.
"I'm not the authority for that. It’s the Food and Drug Administration. If it's certified by the government and it's good fine, no problem," he said during an interview with Al Jazeera made online on Saturday, October 15.
Duterte said FDA regulations mean such a proposal will have to go through studies.
"It must have this qualifying you know, activity, where it is being used to find out if it's really medicinal or it can do something good for the body," he said.
In some places, like some states in the United States, marijuana is legal for medical purposes such as for the alleviation of pain. Marijuana can also be prescribed by doctors to treat muscle spasms, nausea from cancer chemotherapy, and seizure disorders.
The Philippines, along with countries like Indonesia, France, China, Malaysia, and Singapore, have some of the stricted laws against marijuana or cannabis.
Countries like Germany, Netherlands, India, and Canada, meanwhile, have the least restrictive cannabis laws.
Duterte has been fiercely vocal against drugs, particularly shabu or methamphetamine, saying it tears apart Filipino families and heightens criminal tendencies.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.