Benguet ready to supply medicinal marijuana

BENGUET Governor Cresencio Pacalaso is backing moves for the province to supply marijuana used for medical purposes if the law allows.

Pacalso said "if ever the bill is approved and it would be allowed in our country, then we will apply to be a source of the material because based on the stories that I have heated, some farmers now have learned to propagate and take care of it from 3 to 4 months making them experts in growing the material."

The House Committee on Health gave the nod to House Bill 180, or “An Act Providing Compassionate and Right of Access to Medical Cannabis and Expanding Research Into Its Medicinal Properties,” authored by Isabela Representative Rodolfo Albano III.

"Just in case we can be recipients of the permits to grow the material, I would say yes since some parts of the province have areas where marijuana thrives abundantly," Pacalso said.

The governor said that only a very limited portion of areas in Benguet grow cannabis and they may supply the need of accredited medical institutions once the province's application to supply would be approved. The Province, at the same time, will retain a very large portion for agricultural purposes.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Cordillera posed no objection to the proposed bill allowing the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes, provided that applicable safeguards under the law are followed.

"The agency supports the intention and purpose behind the proposed bill and recognizes the need of patients to have access to safe, affordable, available medical cannabis prescribed by registered physicians in cases where cannabis have been found to be effective in the prevention, treatment and management of chronic or debilitating health conditions,” said PDEA-Cordillera Information Officer lawyer Joseph Calulut.

Calulut recommended the proposed bill to be very specific and only legalize the use of tablet or capsule preparations of the alleged medicinal component of Cannabis and not cannabis per se.

Although PDEA is inclined toward the passing of House Bill 180 and eventually its enactment into law, control measures and regulations on the medical use of cannabis are highly needed to ensure the patient’s safety and prevent its use for recreational purposes, said Calulut.

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