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PHL Catholic bishops OK marijuana – but only for terminally ill

Posted On 2014 Jul 08
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Care-carrying medical marijuana patients sample the brownies at Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN

Care-carrying medical marijuana patients sample the brownies at Los Angeles’ first-ever cannabis farmer’s market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer’s of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN

MANILA, July 7, 2014 (AFP) – 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 legalize 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 legalized 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 legalization of drugs including marijuana for recreational use.

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

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