The main author of the medical marijuana bill in the House of Representatives on Saturday expressed high hopes that Congress will support and enact the measure.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, author of House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, said he is optimistic that lawmakers will realize the medicinal and beneficial use of cannabis by patients suffering from pain and other debilitating medical conditions.
“We advocate the legal use of medical marijuana not to put to risk the lives and well-being of the Filipino people; but to help patients who are terminally ill or afflicted with debilitating medical conditions and suffer from unimaginable pain,” Albano, majority leader for the House contingent’s Commission on Apoointments, said.
Albano said he is confident that the Senate leadership under Senator Vicente Sotto III will change his position for the bill.
Albano’s bill is currently pending at the Lower House for second, and third and final reading approval. It was unanimously endorsed by the House committee on health, chaired by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, last Oct. 2.
He said the bill does not and will not promote the use of marijuana for recreational purposes as it seeks to legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis which has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or debilitating medical conditions.
“The bill clearly provides that the use of medical marijuana has to comply with strict regulatory requirements under the Department of Health,” Albano said.
“By saying that the medical marijuana will be a gateway to illegal drugs or will encourage addiction, the critics of my bill obviously do not know what they are talking about,” Albano added.
Albano pointed out that his bill addresses concerns and apprehensions aired by several medical groups and other sectors who were against the bill.
He said that there are “very stringent control provisions” in the measure on the use of medical marijuana were spelled out in HB 6517 to prevent any abuse and harm patients legally allowed or authorized by doctors to use it.
“Access to medical use is also very stringent because medical use of marijuana will be allowed only to patients who are terminally ill or suffering from debilitating medical conditions,” Albano said.
Albano’s HB 6517 provides that cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, “has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy, severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis.
The bill seeks to establish a Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority under the Department of Health to regulate the medical use of cannabis in the country.
Under the measure, a Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center, which will be registered with the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority, will be licensed to “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply and dispense cannabis, paraphernalia or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients.”
Qualifying patients will be allowed access to the use of medical marijuana only through the Center.
Another entity, to be known as the Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facility, shall be established to “conduct scientific and medical research on medical use of cannabis” and provide testing services for its potency, among others.
Meanwhile, marijuana use in this instance was clearly for illegal purposes, as police confiscated a total of 12 kilos of the prohibited substance by by anti-drug operatives in Quezon City, Friday evening.
The police arrested five suspects, who will be charged with cases for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
In a press briefing on Saturday, National Capital Region Police Office Director Guillermo Eleazar said the dried marijuana stalks were rolled in plastic wrappers and newspapers when they were confiscated.