Filipino physicians based in the United States have rejected the proposed new legislation in the Philippines that seeks to authorize the prescription of medical marijuana for a variety of ailments, warning against the high risk of abuse owing to the addictive effects of the illegal drug.
“We currently have enough drug addiction problems in the Philippines and certainly do not want to add more,” said Dr. Philip S. Chua, a heart surgeon and chairman of the Filipino United Network (FUN)-USA.
FUN-USA is “a humanitarian foundation composed of Filipino-American associations and medical graduates of the Philippines now practicing in the US.
“While as a heart surgeon I am personally in favor of therapeutic marijuana for those medical cases that do not respond to standard medical care, I feel as you do that this will be abused in our country and turn the Philippines into a zombie nation as you stated. This is already happening in America,” Chua said in a statement of support e-mailed to the office of Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza.
Atienza, the senior deputy minority leader, has been at the forefront of the opposition to the passage of the proposed Act Providing Filipinos Right of Access to Medical Marijuana, or House Bill 6517.
Filipino lawmakers should vote against the passage of HB 6517, which is “a potentially disastrous bill,” according to Chua, who writes a regular column for a national daily in the Philippines and five newspapers in America.
Meanwhile, Atienza on Sunday warned that the bill would create a gaping loophole in the country’s Dangerous Drugs Law “that is
guaranteed to be exploited aggressively by criminal drug syndicates.”
“Congress will in effect be planting the seeds of a new public health emergency as well as a new law enforcement problem,” Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, said. Atienza made the statement ahead of the country’s observance of Drug Prevention and Control Week. The 63-member House committee on health has already endorsed HB 6517 for plenary approval, and floor debates on the measure are expected to begin when Congress reconvenes on Nov. 20. The committee made the recommendation despite the strong opposition of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the professional organization of Filipino physicians.
The PMA has said that authorizing Filipino physicians to prescribe medical marijuana “runs counter to the State’s policy to protect the well-being of its citizenry.”
In the U.S., President Donald Trump recently declared a public health emergency over the growing misuse of and addiction to opioids that claim the lives of 91 Americans every day. The crisis has been attributed to the over-prescription of opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl as pain medication, causing uncontrolled dependency and fatal overdoses among users.