By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano expressed hope Monday that his bill seeking to legalize the medicinal use of “cannabis” or marijuana in the country will be approved on third and final reading when Congress buckles down to work on July 23.
The principal author of the House Bill 6517 or the Act Providing Filipinos Right of Access to Medical Marijuana said the measure is in period of amendments and is expected to be passed on third and final reading by the Lower Chamber.
Albano said the passage of the bill has long been overdue, even as he appealed to his colleagues not to let cancer patients and those children suffering from debilitating diseases wait in vain.
When asked if his measure will hurdle the Senate, he said, “As long as it’s not recreational and only as a medicine of last resort without it being smoked or taken in its raw form, it will pass.”
Albano asked critics of his measure to be open-minded on the legalization of the medicinal marijuana as provided under House Bill 6517.
He maintained that his measure contains very stringent control provisions on the use of medical marijuana to prevent any abuse.
“Thousands of patients in the country are suffering from serious and debilitating diseases and they need this. We don’t have to put them in jeopardy, ” he said.
Albano’s bill seeks the creation of a Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority which is tasked to issue registry identification cards to qualified patients and caregivers. It will be under the umbrella of the Department of Health (DOH) to regulate the medical use of cannabis in the country.
HB 6517 provides that a licensed physician shall make a complete assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition to determine that the patient is suffering from a debilitating medical condition.
Under the measure, a Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center will be registered with the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority. The Center will be licensed to “acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply and dispense cannabis, paraphernalia or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients.”
Qualifying patients will be allowed access to the use of medical marijuana only through the Center, according to the measure.
The measure also calls for the establishment of Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facility to “conduct scientific and medical research on medical use of cannabis” and provide testing services for its potency, among others.