By Ben Rosario
The bill seeking to legalize medical cannabis or marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions is expected to hurdle committee approval in the House of Representatives.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano, principal author of House Bill 180, said the technical working group assigned to study the measure has prepared its report which he believes would be supportive of the measure.
The House committee on health will deliberate on the measure on Monday.
HB 180 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act proposes the legalization and regulation of the “medical use of marijuana” where the heretofore banned substance has been found to be effective for prevention, treatment and management of specified symptoms, illnesses and diseases.
Albano said medical use of cannabis has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or debilitating diseases.
Under the bill, debilitating medical conditions include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, epilepsy, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and posttraumatic stress disorders.
To ensure that medical marijuana is not abused by patients, the bill proposes that only qualified cannabis physicians can prescribe its use. Such doctors should have professional knowledge of the use of medical cannabis.
On the other hand, only qualified medical cannabis patients would be given access to the substance by certified physicians. Identification cards would be issued to patients who are allowed to use marijuana.
“In the Philippines thousands of patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases would benefit from legalizing the medical use of cannabis,” Albano said.
Citing the 2012 Report of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Albano disclosed that 98,2000 new diagnosed cancer cases were recorded during the year. At least 59,000 patients die annually.
“While many patients may still opt for conventional and orthodox treatment, the intention of this bill is to invoke the right of the patient to choose treatment and the duty of the physician to honor the patient’s decision as well as to inform the patient of the side effects of such treatment,” said Albano, a senior member of the commission on appointments.
According to him, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is recognized in international and national laws.
He said the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 is one such law while the local provision allowing legitimate medical use of such drug is provided under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.