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Pasado na! House okays legalization of medical marijuana on final reading

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House of Representatives has achieved a historical milestone after the chamber voted in favor of the proposed legalization of medical marijuana in the country.

During Tuesday’s plenary proceedings, a total of 163 lawmakers voted for the approval of House Bill No. 6517 or also known as the “Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act.”

Only five solons were not in favor of the proposal while three others abstain.

The measure principally authored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III seeks to legalize and regulate the use of medical cannabis “to benefit patients suffering from debilitating diseases.”

Assistant Majority Floor Leader Ron Salo (Kabayan Partylist), one of those voted in favor HB 6517, said the only places where prescribed medical cannabis will be available are hospitals under the control of the Department of Health (DOH), tertiary hospitals, and private hospitals licensed for medical cannabis purposes.

The proposed legislation provides licensing and operation of Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers and Medical Cannabis Research and Safety Compliance Center.

Medical marijuana under Albano’s proposal can only be accessed either through DOH-retained hospitals, specialty hospitals, and private tertiary hospitals duly licensed by the same agency.

Under the proposed legislation, medical marijuana shall not be used in its raw form—similar to the one being used by recreational users.

Salo stressed that the only people who can issue prescriptions for medical cannabis are licensed doctors authorized by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to issue prescriptions for medical cannabis.

These authorized licensed doctors according to Salo “would be prescribing medical cannabis for very specific conditions and purposes based on their expert diagnosis.”

No less that the House leadership under former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is supportive of the legalization of marijuana for medical use.

Mrs. Arroyo herself admitted earlier this month that she previously tried using medical cannabis during one of here trips abroad—a pain patch with marijuana ingredient—as an alternative painkiller for her cervical spondylosis disease.

The former president stressed that the said alternative pain killer in only legal right now in countries which allowed the used of cannabis for medical purposes.

The bill mandates DOH as the overall principal regulatory agency tasked to formulate and implement policies on the use of medical marijuana PDEA will serve as the ‘monitoring and regulatory body’ in its dispensation.

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