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Philippines House Committee on Health Debates Medical Cannabis

By: Jon Hiltz

The drug enforcement situation in the Philippines continues to grow in curiosity.

Not even 24 hours after Parliament approved a third and final reading to reinstate capital punishment for drug-related offenses, the Philippines House Committee on Health began debating a bill to legalize medical marijuana.

Congressman Rodito Albano’s House Bill 180 outlines a program that would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis at a specific predetermined location and allow patients to receive a special I.D. card for the prescription.

The bill would also guarantee confidentiality for patients to ensure they will not be discriminated against. More importantly, if this bill moves forward, this confidentiality will protect patients from harm. This harm is in relation to the drug war that has engulfed the Philippines, where people are being shot and killed for having anything to do with drugs, including marijuana.

House Representative Seth Jalosjos sponsored the bill and went on record stating that medical marijuana “will benefit thousands of patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases.” Others in favor of the measure outlined the many uses for medical cannabis that have been proven effective around the world, including treatment for epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.

Cannabis reform in various other countries had a clear influence, as officials at the meeting cited nations who have progressed that included Israel, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Portugal. The Philippines Health Department also backed the idea of medical cannabis, but expressed concern that “the benefits should outweigh the risk and harm from the potential use.”

The discussions concluded when the body endorsed the matter to a technical working group that is expected to push the discussion forward.

Any final bill will, of course, need the endorsement of President Duterte. Although he is responsible for the violent drug wars currently unfolding on his streets, Duterte has gone on record as saying that he approves of medical marijuana.

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