One of the last countries you'd expect to reform its marijuana laws just legalized medical cannabis. Earlier this week, the Philippines - which is notorious for taking a hardline approach to the War on Drugs - voted overwhelmingly to support medical marijuana.
On Tuesday, 153 members of the Philippines' House of Representatives cast votes for the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. Only five voted against the legislation and another three abstained. Under the act, physicians licensed by the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency will be allowed to prescribe cannabis to patients suffering from a list of qualifying conditions. Medical marijuana will be distributed through hospitals and facilities called Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers reports CNN Philippines.
“That’s good for those who are sick," said Salvador Panelo - a spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte - told Phil Star Global. That reaction might seem surprising since President Duterte has launched a bloody War on Drugs, which has led to approximately 12,000 deaths. But while he adamantly opposes recreational drug use, Duterte does support medical cannabis.
"The President has always said that he is in support of marijuana being used as a healing mechanism or medicine,” Panelo added.
The bill now advances to the Senate, which also supports the legislation, so it should reach Duterte's desk for final approval shortly. When it's signed, the Philippines will officially join the ranks of Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries that have also recently moved to legalize medical marijuana.