By Ben Rosario
Two senior administration congressmen have separately filed bills proposing the legalization of medical marijuana despite previously being unconvinced that it should pass Congress.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. El Ray Villafuerte and 1Pacman party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda announced in a congressional hearing yesterday they used to scoff at the idea of legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the country.
The two solons made their respective disclosure as they faced oppositors of the bill in the hearing of the House committee on health presided over by Batanes Rep. Ciriaco Gato Jr.
Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag, former president of the Philippine Medical Association, discussed the organization’s strong objection to the measure.
The PMA is convinced that there is no need for any new legislation to allow access to medical marijuana because compassionate use of the substance is already allowed by the Food and Drugs Administration.
On the other hand, cannabis research “is already provided by law through Republic Act 9165,” the doctors’ group said.
“It can also be accessible to those who are using it for recreational purposes. If this happens one can actually extract oil right in his own kitchen,” Calimag cautioned.
Reacting to Calimag’s warning, Villafuerte said he was also unconvinced about legalizing the substance three years ago.
He finally realized the need to pursue the legislative proposal when it became clear that patients allowed to use it for various illnesses are confronted by the restrictive cost of medical marijuana.
Thailand, according to Villafuerte, has already legalized medical marijuana and might one day be the nation that will supply Philippines with its needs.
For his part, Pineda said he is grateful to the psychiatrist who prescribed medical marijuana to his mother. According to Pineda, concentrated medical marijuana oil was able to help his mother control her “panic attacks.”
“After medical marijuana, she became the same mother I knew before she suffered panic attacks that gave her mood swings that sometimes became violent,” the party-list lawmaker said.