A Senate health and demography subcommittee on Thursday terminated its deliberations on the proposed Medical Cannabis Compassionate Access Act.
Senator Robin Padilla, who chairs the subcommittee, adjourned the meeting after three hearings on the matter.
Before ending the hearing, Padilla asked the stakeholders and the resource persons in the hearing to support and help the panel in crafting the committee report through a technical working group.
“Inaasahan ko rin po ang inyong suporta kapag umusad na sa plenaryo ang panukalang ito. Ito pong oras na ito ang atin pong pagdinig ay atin na pong tatapusin,” Padilla said.
[We are expecting your support once this reaches the plenary. We are terminating our hearing today.]
At the early part of the hearing, Ricardo Penson, president and CEO of Penson and Company Inc., shared to the committee their study tour in Israel last May where he and Padilla had an ocular visit to the facilities which produce pharmaceutical grade cannabis.
During the visit, Penson said they met with the Israel Medical Cannabis Agency and they found out that from the planting and farming stage, they make sure that the cannabis is pharmaceutical grade already.
“They do not allow the introduction of any microbes or germs on the plant itself. In fact, they are all grown without the use of soil,” he said.
Penson suggested the Department of Agriculture to study this as Israel plants their cannabis using coconut hemps and not soil.
With the instruction to allow cannabis for medical purposes and not for recreational use, Penson said Israel's Ministry of Health had worked with their Ministry of Agriculture to conduct research and development.
So far, Israel has developed around 160 strains of cannabis—each of which targets a specific medical condition.
In terms of regulating the use of medical cannabis, Penson said the product has a barcode which can be monitored by the agency until the product is consumed by the patient.
“It is tracked to which dispensary or pharmacy it went through, which doctor issued the prescription for use of that, kung sinong pasyente ang tumanggap ng prescription, saang drugstore or pharmacy binili, ilang araw niya na-consume. Pag-surrender ng package tiyaka lang nila ite-terminate yung barcode na yon na consumed na,” he said.
[It is tracked to which dispensary or pharmacy it went through, which doctor issued the prescription for use of that, who is the patient who received the prescription, from what drugstore or pharmacy was it purchased, and for how long did the patient consume it. Once the package has been surrendered, only then will the barcode be terminated.]
“Yung full cycle nila na yan ang siguro kailangan din nating matingnan nang maigi dito sa ating bansa kung ito ay matuloy na magawa natin dahil ang tungkulin po ng estado dito ay yung monitoring, yung [regulation],” he added.
[That full cycle will have to be looked into here in our country because once it is legalized, it will be the duty of the State to do the monitoring, the regulation.]
Penson explained the use of the term cannabis, saying marijuana is not a scientific name and a viable name for this plant.
“[Marijuana] was only a discriminatory name given to the cannabis dahil pagtawid galing sa Mexico papuntang America, tinawag nilang Maria Juana (because when it arrived in America from Mexico, they called it Maria Juana),” Penson said.
In his opening statement, Padilla said their study of Israel’s model will be included in his proposal to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
“Kilala po ang Israel bilang isa sa mga bansang mayroong pinaka-maayos at pinaka malinaw na batas at regulasyon sa medical cannabis. Sila rin po ang may pinaka-mayabong na pag-aaral at pananaliksik ukol dito. At kung usapin lang din ng law enforcement o pagpapatupad ng batas, wala nang mas hihigpit pa sa Israel. Ang ating nasaliksik sa Israel ay isasama natin sa ating balangkas na batas na tugma din sa pangangailangan ng medical cannabis dito sa atin,” he said.
[Israel is renowned as a country with the clearest laws and regulations on medical cannabis. They have the most comprehensive research on the matter. On the enforcement of laws, nothing can beat Israel. What we learned from our study tour of Israel, we will include in our proposed measure on medical cannabis in the Philippines.]
He reiterated that the measure is to give patients the right to choose available options for their medical conditions.
“Obligasyon po natin bilang isang mambabatas na punuan ito - na bigyan ng kalayaang mamili ang may karamdaman ng paraan ng paggagamot na sa tingin niya ay nararapat sa kanya, kaagapay ng prescription ng kanyang doktor,” he said.
(Our obligation as lawmakers is to allow people the freedom to choose their method of therapy that they think is best, and in accordance with the prescription of their doctors.) — RSJ, GMA Integrated News