The main author of the proposed measure to legalize cannabis or marijuana for medical purposes on Saturday appealed to the leadership of the House of Representatives to give his bill a chance to be debated in the plenary during the remaining session months of the 16th Congress.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, principal author of House Bill 4477 or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis, said he is hopeful that Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. would keep an open mind to his proposal.
“Let us give this bill a chance, at least to be debated in Congress. This bill, if passed into law, will help many Filipinos, especially patients who are terminally ill and suffering excruciating pain,” Albano said.
Albano made the statement as the House committee on health, chaired by La Union Rep. Eufranio Eriguel, has created a technical working group to draft a final version of the measure that would be subject for plenary debates and approval.
Eriguel had earlier said the TWG would consolidate all inputs from the authors, resource persons from the medical profession and government agencies and concerned non-government organizations.
The 16th Congress has practically five to eight months to go before it adjourned sine die on July 10, 2016.
Albano pointed out that the bill does not and will not promote the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
“The bill’s main intent is to help terminally ill patients and with debilitating disease or medical condition for pain management considerations,” Albano said.
HB 4477, which was co-authored by 69 House lawmakers, seeks to legalize the use of medical cannabis as an alternative treatment to help qualified patients suffering from chronic or debilitating disease, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
Filed last year on May, 2014, the bill has generated a lively debate between those who believe on the therapeutic and palliative effects of cannabis and those who argue that there is a lack of scientific evidence, likelihood of abuse, and danger of proliferation.
In pushing for the passage of his measure, Albano said: “There are very stringent control provisions in the measure on the use of medical marijuana to prevent any abuse and harm patients legally allowed or authorized by doctors to use it.”
The bill proposes to establish a Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority under the Department of Health.
Under the measure, a Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center under 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.”
The bill provides that qualified patients will be authorized to avail of medical marijuana only through the Center.
Under the measure, the Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facility will also be established to “conduct scientific and medical research on medical use of cannabis” and provide testing services for its potency, among others.