Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga second district Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has filed a bill proposing to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
In House Bill 7817, which has been referred to the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, Arroyo cited that the use of cannabis as medicine dates back 2,500 to 10,000 years ago “in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.”
“In the Philippines, thousands of patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases will benefit from legalizing the medical use of cannabis,” Arroyo said.
The former Philippine leader cited a report of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2012 that showed that 98,200 new cancer cases are diagnosed in a year in the country while 59,000 are dying of cancer annually.
Arroyo also mentioned that although chemotherapy treatments are covered by the PhilHealth in some cases, “patients who are not eligible still have out of pocket expenses for chemotherapy treatments.” Such treatments range from P36,000 to P180,000 for the standard 6 cycles.
In the proposed law, only those with “debilitating medical conditions” such as cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, and rheumatoid arthritis will be allowed access to medical cannabis.
But even qualified patients are prohibited from possessing or smoking cannabis, or using it for purposes other than for medical treatment.
To prevent abuses, only physicians registered with the Department of Health can issue a written certification to a patient for the medical use of cannabis. The physician cannot issue such a certification for his own use or for the use of his relatives up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.
Also, ID cards will be issued to qualified patients and nurses who are licensed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to administer medical cannabis.
If the bill is enacted into law, anyone found violating it may be meted life imprisonment and will be fined P500,000 to P10 million. — Tina Panganiban-Perez/RSJ, GMA Integrated News