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House legalizes medical marijuana


Voting 163-5 with three abstentions, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the measure legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The bill, principally authored by Isabela Representative Rodito Albano, will allow the use of marijuana in treating chronic or debilitating medical conditions and establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) which will be authorized to sell, supply and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or their caregivers through S3-licensed pharmacists.

Under the proposed law, the license of the MCCC will be issued by the Department of Health and will be based in department-retained hospitals, specialty hospitals and private tertiary hospitals.

Albano’s proposed measure also provides that such legalization of marijuana is in line with the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which states that “the government should, however, aim to achieve a balance in the national drug control program so that people with legitimate medical needs are not prevented from being treated with adequate amounts of appropriate medications, which include the use of dangerous drugs.”

Last month, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also backed the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the aftermath of Pinay Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s statement that the use of marijuana should be limited to medical use and not for recreational purposes.

“If you are a doctor, you don’t say [to the patient] you take one stick [of marijuana] a day. It is not the case. You don’t use the plant or a part of it for medicine. It is in controlled amount, extracted, in a tablet, capsule or vial. If it is [a case[ a medical preparation, [served] with minimal amounts, then logically there is good use for it because it has already been proven in certain studies,” PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said then.

President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has said that he uses marijuana to help him sleep and keep up with his “killing” schedule of Chief Executive.

The centerpiece policy of the Duterte administration is its war on drugs which has already killed at least 5,050 drug suspects as of November 30 last year based on PDEA and police records.

Prior to the measure's third reading approval, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said that she has used marijuana to treat her bad back whenever she is abroad or in a country where such practice is allowed. — RSJ, GMA News