Officials welcome legalizing marijuana with strict regulations
THE bill seeking to legalize the use of medical marijuana was welcomed by several government officials in Cebu, but with some reservations.
Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, in a phone interview, told Cebu Daily News that while she supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes only, it should contain stringent regulations in the production and distribution of the plant.
“I’m all for that, but it has to be regulated. … There are medical and scientific journals proving the benefits of marijuana to our health, but then again, regulations on this have to be strictly implemented (so that it won’t be abused),” Magpale stated.
For her, one way of regulating production and distribution of medical marijuana is to conduct regular inspections on plantations growing marijuana as well as ensuring that the harvest is delivered straight to pharmaceutical companies for production of marijuana-based medicines.
“Marijuana can be grown anywhere and with that, I think it’s good to regularly check the farms. And it has to be sold to medical laboratories only,” added Magpale.
The committee on health of the House of Representatives approved on Monday House Bill No. 180 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which proposes the legalization and regulation of the medical use of marijuana.
Marijuana has been found effective in alleviating symptoms of chronic diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, among others.
The bill, authored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano, seeks to establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) licensed by the Department of Health (DOH) in state-accredited hospitals, specialty hospitals and private tertiary hospitals which can sell, supply and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or caregivers.
Magpale stated that the therapeutic value of marijuana is beneficial to an individual’s health, an opinion she shared with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Osmeña told CDN in a text message that the use of medical marijuana has long been done abroad, like in the Netherlands, Canada and several states of the United States of America (US), and that it helps alleviate the pain suffered by cancer patients.
Osmeña said banning cannabis is like banning morphine and anesthesia, which are primarily used as painkillers in hospitals.
“Same with Netherlands, Canada, and many U.S. states. As long as it helps cancer patients, it’s ok with me. I was in a cancer hospital and have witnessed so much pain. Imagine if we banned morphine or anesthesia, it would be unacceptable,” he said.
The Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO) said legalizing marijuana would entail an amendment to Republic Act (RA) 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, which lists marijuana as a prohibited substance.
“CPADAO will always respect the wisdom and legislative intent of our lawmakers in enacting this bill. … It can be recalled that RA 9165 is a creation of Congress. Hence, the proposed bill to legalize or regulate the use of marijuana for medical purposes must be harmonized with the provision under RA 9165. In other words, it needs to be amended,” CPADAO officer lawyer George John Cane told CDN in a separate text message.
House Bill 180 will allow a pharmacist with an S3 license issued by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to sell and dispense the substance.
The bill seeks to require qualified medical patients with debilitating medical conditions to be certified by their physicians and be issued identification cards by the DOH.
The PDEA will have the key role in monitoring and regulating the dispensing of the substance in health facilities.
PDEA-7 Investigator Earl Rallos, however, said legalizing marijuana is prone to abuse.
“Pwede siya makapahupay bisag unsa nga sakit diha pero it’s prone to abuse (Yes, it can alleviate pain, but it is also prone to abuse),” Rallos said.
He likened it to nubain, which is being abused by some drug addicts.
“Parehas sa nubain nga paliton isip gamiton siya pang-high for drug addiction mahimo na siyang illegal. Sa marijuana illegal siya kung dili prescribed sa doctor,” Rallos added.
(Like nubain which is used by drug addicts so it becomes illegal. Marijuana will be illegal if it is not prescribed by a doctor.) With Nestle L. Semilla and Inquirer.net
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