The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday threw its backing to the proposed Medical Marijuana bill in a pastoral message read to all Catholic churches across the country.
CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that the Catholic church's highest teaching authority allows for the compassionate use of marijuana for the terminally ill, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Villegas said in his pastoral statement, "[And] it is gravely wrong to make use of them for recreational or leisure purposes," as he spelled out the CBCP's stand on a proposed bill to allow medical marijuana in the Philippines that is pending in Congress.
According to Villegas, it was "morally irresponsible" to allow the use of cannabis or any other narcotic or psychotropic drugs for the terminally ill. However, the Church voiced its reservation against abusing the substance for recreational use, as it highlighted the disastrous effects of drug abuse to the society and individual health.
"Substance abuse and drug dependence are wrong, and any measure that makes abused or habituating substances within easy reach of potential abusers and dependents is morally wrong," Villegas said.
Las month, the CBCP issued a strong statement came against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. But Villegas said that they could not issue a "blanket rejection of medical marijuana for medical purposes.
He reiterated that Catholic health ethics consider as morally justifiable the use of marijuana for medical use.
"We do not advocate use of marijuana," Villegas said. "We only refer to terminally ill patients to minimize their pain especially if they prepare for their death."
The archbishop was responding to a question, during a press conference in Manila, about the church's position on a proposal in Congress to legalize marijuana cultivation in the country for medical use.
According to him, the country does not even need a law for marijuana use to assist patients on whom no medication is possible except prohibited drugs.
"We don't even need a law because the present law allows it already," Villegas said.
He cited provisions of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, that defends such use of prohibited drugs in exceptional cases.
"All we need to do is to identify which of them may be used," he said.
He also called on the Philippine government to make sure that these drugs are not abused.
Congressman Rodolfo Albano III has proposed debating House Bill No. 04477, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, to allow the medical use of cannabis.