By Ben R. Rosario
National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars are endorsing and issuing testimonies on the medical benefits of regulated marijuana use, something the principal author of the medical marijuana bill vowed to cite and present during plenary debates on the measure.
Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano, principal author of House Bill 6517, said medical marijuana endorsements in the NBA provided one of the strongest reasons why the Philippines should legalize the use of medical cannabis.
Steve Kerr, head coach of the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors, was among those who aired support for the lifting of the NBA ban on medical marijuana.
Albano said Kerr has predicted that the on-going move to lift the prohibition will “happen eventually.”
Kerr, who played and won NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, said in several reports that he has used marijuana as an alternative to pain medications due to his episodes of back pain.
According to Albano, Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl Anthony Towns and former NBA Commissioner David Stern came out with statements urging the NBA to allow the use of the substance for professional cagers representing cities that where medical marijuana is legal.
“Athletes who suffer from excruciating pain caused by serious sports injuries should be allowed to access medical cannabis,” said Albano.
He noted that the debate on the use of lifting of medical marijuana in the NBA started when Denver Nuggets power forward Al Harrington confessed using the medicinal form of marijuana which he claimed have provided better relief than other anti-inflammatories for his knee injury.
Towns, who aspired to become a doctor before being lured to the more lucrative professional basketball, said he has “seen first-hand the benefits of medical marijuana” on people facing painful physical ailment and even to autistic persons.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silvers admitted that allowing NBA players access to medical cannabis is ”something we will look at.”
However, Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza, a staunch oppositor of HB 6517, called on congressional allies of President Duterte to thumb down the proposed measure which will be debated on the House plenary soon.
Atienza warned that the measure filed by Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano will “weaken the aggressive anti-drug war” being waged by Duterte.
A former Manila mayor, Atienza said the proposed medical marijuana bill will be exploited by drug syndicates if it is passed into law.
HB 6517 provides for the compassionate and right of access to medical cannabis.
It also proposes expansion of medical research into its medicinal properties.