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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

House majority okays medical marijuana bill

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Voting 163-5-3, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana.

The House, in a plenary session, presided by deputy speaker and Davao City Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano, gave its nod to House Bill 6517 or “An Act Providing Compassionate and Right of Access to Medical Cannabis, Expanding Research to its Medicinal Properties and Other Purposes” authored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III.

Albano said he believes the Senate headed by Senator Vicente Sotto III will have a change of heart and will support the bill.

He said the historic passage of the proposed legalization of cannabis for medical use was because legislators have began to realize the medicinal and beneficial use of cannabis by patients suffering from pain and other debilitating medical conditions.

“We hope that proposal to legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes will soon get enacted. We advocate the 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 said.

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In the 16th Congress, the bill did not prosper as it did not even reach the approval at the committee level.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier rallied behind the passage of the legalization of cannabis for medical use even as he vowed to sign the measure as soon as it is transmitted to his office.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, one of the principal authors of the Medical Cannabis Act, earlier revealed she herself had tried using cannabis patches to alleviate the pain caused by her neck problem.

Arroyo is suffering from cervical spondylosis of age-related wear and tear of the spinal discs in the neck.

In 2017, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act allows medical laboratories to cultivate marijuana for “medical experiences and research purposes.”

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, otherwise known as the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, proposes 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.”

Qualified 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.

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