The measure seeking the legalization of medical marijuana has been refiled at the House of Representatives on Monday, the first day of the 18th Congress.
Dr. Socorro Reyes, the policy adviser of Isabela Representative Antonio Albano, was among those who turned up early at the House to file the newly-elected congressman's bill, which was authored by his brother, former congressman and now Governor Rodolfo Albano III, in the previous Congress.
A booth has been set up at the House's South Wing Lobby for lawmakers and their staff who want to file their bills and resolutions as early as the first day of the new Congress.
"The bill has been filed since 2014. So this is the fifth year, this is the third Congress. And I have with me the Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society (PCCS), parents and patients of those who need medical cannabis because they have been very sick and they have always looked forward getting medical marijuana for their illnesses," Reyes told reporters in an interview.
"We are very hopeful, that after the bill has been here in Congress since 2014, five years later, it's 2019, we hope naman ngayon ay mapasa na kasi kailangan talaga ng mga pasyente," she added.
The medical marijuana bill, whose second incarnation was approved by the 17th Congress on third reading last January, sought to legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis, found to have beneficial and therapeutic uses in treating chronic or debilitating medical conditions.
The measure also aimed to establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) which are authorized to sell, supply and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or their caregivers through S3-licensed pharmacists.
The Senate, however, failed to pass the same measure during the 17th Congress. The bill should then be refiled in order to be considered anew.
Reyes said that much has changed in the newly-filed medical marijuana bill from the previous version, except that it needs a tax provision.
Actress Lui Manansala, a member of PCCS, said that they will continue to fight for the legalization of medical marijuana.
"In behalf of the Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society, mainly a patient organization advocating for the legal, safe, affordable and available access to medical cannabis, we will go on with our fight. Tuloy ang laban para sa MedCan. Ipaglaban natin ito. Lahat ng pasyente, sumama sa ating pakikipaglaban," she said. — LA, GMA News