By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter
THE House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the bill legalizing and regulating the use of medical marijuana.
With 163 affirmative votes, 5 negatives and 3 abstentions, House Bill No. 6517, or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act hurdled the chamber.
The measure acknowledges the beneficial and therapeutic uses of medical marijuana in treating debilitating medical conditions, such as Cancer, Glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, Damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord, and Epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Rheumatoid arthritis among others.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who co-authored the bill, had vouched for the effectivity of medical cannabis. She had previously admitted using a “pain patch” to treat her cervical spine problem.
If enacted, the bill will allow qualified patients to access medical marijuana, as prescribed by a physician licensed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
It was noted that physicians prescribing medical marijuana must have a “bona fide” relationship with the patient.
Moreover, the bill provided that qualified patients are prohibited from possessing and smoking cannabis in any mode of public transport or public space, operate any motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence.
Qualified physicians and caregivers, for their part, are prohibited from prescribing medical cannabis to unqualified patients, or to qualified patients without establishing a bona fide relationship, among others.
Those found violating the bill may be subjected to life imprisonment or fined P500,000 to P10 million at the discretion of a court where a case on such violation is filed.
Further, the Department of Health is also mandated to develop an appropriate training program for physicians, pharmacists and caregivers.