Following the decision of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UN-CND) to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (the “Convention”), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would like to enlighten the public on its limited implications to our drug control policies and actions.
As previously stated by the DDB, the decision will have no immediate impact in terms of drug control as the government will still have the jurisdiction relative to classifying and regulating cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, at the domestic level.
While cannabis has been removed from Schedule IV of the international drug control convention, it remains to be a dangerous drug under Schedule 1. The Convention limits exclusively to medical and scientific purposes the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use, and possession of Schedule 1 substances.
The removal from Schedule IV means that UN-CND acknowledges that cannabis may have potential therapeutic or medicinal value. However, medical preparations or products with cannabis still need to acquire and comply with the regulatory control requirements from PDEA, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies. Control measures and regulations on the medical use of cannabis are highly needed to ensure the patient’s safety and prevent its use for recreational purposes.
More importantly, cannabis is still a dangerous drug as defined under Republic Act No. 9165 or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, as amended. The cultivation, possession, use, sale, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of cannabis remain to be punishable under the law. PDEA and other drug law enforcement agencies will continue to enforce the law and enjoin the public to abide by the law.
Through this clarification, the DDB and PDEA hope that the reclassification of cannabis by the UN-CND will not send a wrong message to the public, especially the youth that it is safe and legal for recreational use. It remains regulated because it is highly addictive and poses negative health, social, and legal consequences.
Agencies of the government will remain steadfast in implementing measures to prevent the trafficking and unauthorized use of cannabis and other dangerous drugs.