Sunday July 22, 2018

Editorial: Risk vs benefit

THE committee on health of the House of Representatives has endorsed the controversial bill authored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III authorizing the medical use of marijuana. Albano then went on the offensive to promote his measure, perhaps sensing that having it approved by majority of his colleagues and by the Senate is an uphill climb. Sen. Vicente Sotto III has claimed that the bill is “dead in the water” as far as the Upper Chamber is concerned.

But it’s an interesting effort by Albano nevertheless. In the United States, some states have passed similar laws allowing the medical use of marijuana while there are already moves to decriminalize marijuana use by adults. Many of Albano’s arguments in support of his bill have actually been lifted from those of proponents of similar measures in the said US states.

What the House committee on health and Albano weren’t honest about, though, is that not every claim on the medical use of marijuana has been established with certainty. For example, while the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has approved medications containing synthetic versions of a chemical found in marijuana, which are then used to treat symptoms of certain illnesses, their use is still illegal at the federal level.

The main problem is that long-term and thorough studies have not been conducted on the potential risks of their use as against the benefits. In the meantime, results of studies on the experience of states in the US and some countries that allowed the medical use of marijuana have not been conclusive.

Risks vs. benefit is also an issue in the overall fight against substance abuse in the country if medical use of marijuana is allowed. Albano has been silent on whether adequate measures are being put in place that would ensure that the use of marijuana would only be for what his bill intends to accomplish. What we are hearing are assurances that recreational use of marijuana would still be prohibited—which is negated by the lack of specifics on how the prohibition would be done.