Bill to legalize medical marijuana filed in House

A BILL seeking to legalize marijuana for medical purposes has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives.

Isabela Representative Rodolfo Albano III, main author of the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, said his proposal has the backing of President Rodrigo Duterte who acknowledges that medical marijuana is now "ingredient of modern medicine."

Albano said both existing international and national laws provide for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The lawmaker cited the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol provides that "recognizing that the medical use of narcotic drugs continues to be indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering and that adequate provisions must be made to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs for such purposes."

It further provides in Article 4 that "subject to the provisions of this Convention, to limit exclusively to medical and scientific purpose the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution, trade in, use and possession of drugs."

He said the proposed legalization of medical cannabis should not be deemed in any manner to advocate, authorize, promote, or legally or socially accept the use of marijuana for any non-medical use.

"For this reason, the bill provides for control measures and regulation on the medical use of cannabis to ensure patient's safety and for effective and efficient implementation of the Act," said Albano.

The Isabela lawmaker cited recent studies, wherein cannabis has established effects on control of epileptic seizures, pain management in multiple sclerosis and arthritis, treatment of symptoms associated with HIV-AIDS and palliative care in end-stage cancer treatment.

"Potential medical effects based on clinical trials include prevention of cancer from spreading, management of anxiety, slows progression of Alzheimer’s disease and control of muscle spasms and tremors. Cannabis use in children with epilepsy and seizure disorders have been shown to be effective without the deleterious side effects of anti-epileptic medications," said Albano.

Albano also noted that cannabis has many currently accepted medical uses in the United States, having been recommended by thousands of licensed physicians and more than 500,000 patients in 26 states including the District of Columbia with medical marijuana laws.

He also mentioned that countries such as Israel, Canada, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic have enacted medical cannabis laws that remove criminal sanctions for the medical use of cannabis.

Meanwhile, Finland, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg, in recognition of the medical value of cannabis, have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization, where possession and use of cannabis, rarely lead to criminal prosecution.

House Bill 180 provides the State shall legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis which 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; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis.

The bill mandates the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary to lead the formulation of regulations to implement the Act. The Secretary shall also issue registered identification (ID) cards to qualified patients after a careful review of their required documents.

The bill also provides for the establishment of the Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center (MCCC), which refers to any entity registered with the DOH and licensed to acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply and dispense cannabis, devices or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients. (Sunnex)
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