House OKs medical marijuana bill on 2nd reading

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MANILA — The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a proposed bill allowing the use of medical marijuana in the country.

House Bill 6517 or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis, which was principally authored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, has the support of President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Albano welcomed the bill’s approval and thanked his colleagues for their support.

“Thank you for approving my bill. This will help patients suffering from pain and other debilitating medical conditions such as cancer,” he said.

He also urged the measure’s critics, including congressmen, various groups of doctors, and the medical community to look into the merits of his proposal, pointing out that the bill does not and will not promote the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

“The bill clearly provides that the use of medical marijuana has to comply with strict regulatory requirements under the Department of Health (DOH),” Albano said.

“By saying that the medical marijuana will be a gateway to illegal drugs or will encourage addiction, the critics of my bill obviously do not know what they are talking about,” Albano added.

Deputy Majority Leader Ron Salo also welcomed the approval of the proposed measure, saying it will provide compassion and better quality of life to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions which include cachexia, seizures, or severe and persistent muscles spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis.

He also pointed out that the measure has enough safeguards so abuses can be avoided.

“Simply put, once approved into law, medical cannabis would no longer be illegal but would be strictly regulated,” Salo said.

As provided under HB 6517, the only places where prescribed medical cannabis will be available are DOH hospitals, tertiary hospitals, and private hospitals licensed for medical cannabis purposes.

Only licensed doctors authorized by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency can issue prescriptions for medical cannabis.

The authorized licensed doctors would be prescribing medical cannabis for very specific conditions and purposes based on their expert diagnosis.

There will also be licensed medical cannabis caregivers who will be issued special identification cards by the DOH Secretary. A medical cannabis caregiver can attend to only one patient at any time.-PNA

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