A House of Representatives panel has approved a plan to allow the use of medical marijuana in the Philippines.
The committee on health unanimously approved House Bill No. 180, or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which proposes the legalisation of medical marijuana.
The decision came after consultations with patients, advocacy groups, health care practitioners and experts.
Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.
Currently, possession of 10 grams or more of marijuana resin or oil or 500 grams or more of marijuana plants can be punished by life imprisonment or a fine of up to 10 million pesos.
While the president’s tough stance on illegal drugs is well known, he has previously conceded that marijuana may possess beneficial qualities.
Speaking while still Mayor of Davao City, he said: “Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine now. There are drugs right now being developed or already in the market that have marijuana as a component.
“If you just smoke it like a cigarette, I will not allow it, ever. It remains to be a prohibited item and there’s always a threat of being arrested.
“If you choose to fight the law enforcement agency, you die.”
Benefits of medical marijuana
Marijuana has been found to be effective in alleviating symptoms of multiple diseases including cancer and multiple sclerosis.
The bill, authored by Congressman Rodolfo Albano, seeks to establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) in hospitals to dispense medical marijuana.
It is also proposed that pharmacists could dispence the drug under a licence issued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The bill also provides for the establishment of ‘Medical Cannabis Research & Safety Compliance Facilities’ to conduct research on the use of medicinal marijuana.
The Department of Health will issue identification cards to qualified patients who have been referred by their doctors.
The department will also provide training for medical cannabis physicians.
According to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, cannabis cures or gives relief to the following conditions:
•nausea relief (AIDS, cancer therapy, sea sickness)
•and rheumatism, among several others