Philippine bishops OK marijuana, for terminally ill

Senior church leaders in the conservative Philippines said Monday they support the use of marijuana to ease the pain of the terminally ill, but not for recreational reasons.

The leaders outlined their stance after a bill was filed in the legislature which would legalise the medical use of marijuana.

Tough laws at present call for life imprisonment for possession of just 500 grams (17.6 ounces) of the drug.

The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said the church was still firm in opposing its use for recreational purposes.

“We are not promoting the use of marijuana. We are only referring to terminally-ill patients who are in severe pain,” he told a press conference called to announce the Pope’s visit to the country next January.

“The best solution is to give it to those to manage their pain as they approach the end of their lives.”

Villegas said such use of marijuana would fall under church rules and may even be approved by government without passing a law.

Marijuana use, usually for medical purposes, has been legalised in many communities and even in some countries but remains illegal in the Philippines.

However despite his more liberal stance on issues such as homosexuality, Pope Francis in June spoke out strongly against legalisation of drugs including marijuana for recreational use.

“The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs,” the pope told a drug enforcement conference.