By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano conceded Wednesday that his bill seeking to legalize the medicinal use of “cannabis” or marijuana will not see the light this 17th Congress.
He said he is leaving up the fate of House Bill 6517 or the proposed “Act Providing Filipinos Right of Access to Medical Marijuana” to the House leadership.
“I think it will all be gone [up] in smoke,” Albano said when asked if the bill will hurdle this 17th Congress.
But he expressed hope that Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo would save his measure from death. “Si [former] PGMA [President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo] na bahala dyan. I am leaving up the fate of my bill to her, ” Albano, who is allied with the group of former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, said.
He said he has yet to talk to the Speaker to seek her support for his pro-health measure, which hurdled the House Committee on Health.
Albano laments the passage of the bill has long been overdue, even as he appealed to his colleagues not to let cancer patients and children suffering from debilitating diseases wait in vain.
He asked critics of his measure to be open-minded on the legalization of medicinal marijuana as provided under House Bill 6517.
He maintained that his measure contains very stringent control provisions on the use of medical marijuana to prevent any abuse.
“Thousands of patients in the country are suffering from serious and debilitating diseases and they need this. We don’t have to put them in jeopardy, ” he said.
Albano’s bill seeks the creation of a Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority which is tasked to issue registry identification cards to qualified patients and caregivers. It will be under the umbrella of the Department of Health (DOH) to regulate the medical use of cannabis in the country.
HB 6517 provides that a licensed physician shall make a complete assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition to determine that the patient is suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
Under the measure, a Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center will be registered with the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority. The Center will be licensed to “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply and dispense cannabis, paraphernalia or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients.”
Qualifying patients will be allowed access to the use of medical marijuana only through the Center, according to the measure.
The measure also calls for the establishment of the Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facility to “conduct scientific and medical research on the medical use of cannabis” and provide testing services for its potency, among others.