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House committee passes bill legalizing medical marijuana

The Committee on Health of the House of Representatives has voted unanimously in support of a bill seeking to legalize the use of marijuana (scientific name: cannabis sativa) for medical purposes in the Philippines. The bill will now be scheduled for plenary debates.

Authored by Representative Rodolfo T. Albano (Isabela, 1st district), House Bill 180 or the “Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act” seeks to legalize and regulate the medical use of marijuana. The current bill was filed last year, although various versions of the proposal has been filed during past Congresses.

“I’m elated now that it passed the committee level. It’s the first time it has advanced this far,” Albano told Interaksyon.com. He went on to claim that his bill can have the support of as much as 90% of all House members given that both President Rodrigo Duterte as well as Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez supports the bill.

According to the United States National Institute of Drug Abuse, certain elements present in marijuana, particularly cannabinoids, can provide therapeutic effects for people suffering from cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, epilepsy, severe and persistent muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis. among others.

medical marijuana in the philippines

A House committee has approved a bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana in the country (Credits: http://abc7.com)

The first step in the implementation of the proposed law is for the Department of Health (DOH) to issue identification cards to patients who have received certifications from their respective physicians that they are indeed suffering from a debilitating medical condition and thus, can benefit from the therapeutic or palliative benefits of cannabis.

The proposed law also mandates the DOH to establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) based in government hospitals, specialty hospitals, and private tertiary hospitals. These centers will serve as authorized outlets which can “sell, supply, and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or caregivers through a pharmacist with an S3 license issued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.”

HB 180 also seeks to establish Medical Cannabis Research and Safety Compliance Facilities licensed by the DOH which will be tasked “to conduct scientific and medical research on the medical use of cannabis and provides testing services for its potency and contaminants.” The bill reiterates that it does not seek in any way to legalize marijuana for recreational and other purposes.

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