More lawmakers support medical marijuana legalization

AT LEAST 20 lawmakers have already expressed their support for the controversial measure that seeks the legalization of medical marijuana.

Isabela Representative Rodolfo Albano III, author of the proposed Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, said lawmakers led by House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora have already co-authored the bill.

Albano said House Bill 4477 would not decriminalize the illegal sale and use of marijuana.

"Right now, the bill has been backed by at least 20 lawmakers and counting. For the record, the measure would not decriminalize the sale and use of marijuana if these are not intended for medicinal purposes," Albano said.

Aside from Zamora, the bill is also co-authored by Representatives Emi Calixto-Rubiano (Pasay City), Roy SeƱeres (Party-list, OFW), Regina Reyes (Marinduque), Elisa Olga Kho (Masbate) and Henry Oaminal (Misamis Occidental).

Zamora said it is about time Congress opens its discussions on the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

"We are in agreement that marijuana for medicinal -- strictly medicinal purposes -- should be examined; in fact, possibly legitimized it. For recreational purposes, that's an entirely different issue," Zamora said.

Also, House Deputy Majority Leader John Jorge Banal Jr. (Quezon City) and Iloilo City Jerry Trenas supported Albano's bill that would legalize the sale and purchase of marijuana just for medical use.

"If it is strictly for medicinal purposes, there's a strong possibility that the bill will be approved. This is a far cry from the case of Colorado which allowed the sale of recreational marijuana at the start of the year," Banal said.

"As long as there medical justification for it, I believe it is worth a try," Trenas said.

Albano said the bill seeks to legalize and regulate the medical use of marijuana or cannabis, which has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition.

"This is in response to the demand of patients and caregivers especially those suffering from cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures; or severe and persistent muscles spasms," Albano said.

The bill seeks to establish a Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority under the Department of Health that will be tasked to issue registry identification cards to qualified patients and caregivers; evaluate and approve applications for registration of Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers that are licensed to supply and dispense cannabis; and evaluate and approve applications for registration of Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facilities which will conduct testing services for the potency and contaminants of cannabis. (Sunnex)
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