Regardless of whether the government permits medical cannabis, the drug’s status as a category 2 drug would not be changed, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) said on Saturday after a petition calling for medicinal cannabis to be allowed gained more signatures.
A proposal on the National Development Council’s Public Policy Network Participation Platform has collected more than 5,000 signatures, exceeding the threshold needed for the proposal to be considered by the government.
The public must understand that the only difference between narcotics and drugs is whether they are used in a legal manner, the ministry said.
Using morphine, a category 1 narcotic, as an anesthetic is legal, and methadone, a category 2 narcotic, can be used to treat opioid dependence, it said.
Item 4, Article 2 of the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防治條例) states: “[Drug] needs for medication or scientific use can be otherwise designated by law,” which allows for narcotics to be designated as medicinal drugs, it said.
However, no individual or company in Taiwan is importing cannabis medication, either because there are substitutes already in place, or its market would be too small, the ministry said.
Cannabis is a substance that is addictive and could be abused if used recreationally, causing harm to the public, as well as being dangerous to the physical and mental state of the user, it said.
In meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Taipei Medical University, the pharmaceutical industry and medical experts, the attendees have been unanimously against the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, the justice ministry said.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Thursday said that cannabis, which contains cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is a restricted category 2 narcotic, as is THC.
As CBD has possible medicinal properties, it is not listed under restricted drugs, it said.
As there are as yet no approved medicines containing CBD, individuals with doctor’s prescriptions for such drugs should apply to import it according to the Regulations on Management of Medicament Samples and Gifts (藥物樣品贈品管理辦法), the health ministry added.
The use of cannabis can increase the possibility of lung or myocardial infarctions as well as addiction, so the public needs to be cautious about pressing for legalization, it said.
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