Lawmakers endorse medical marijuana

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The House minority bloc is pushing for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Minority leader Ronaldo Zamora said they would join minority colleague Rep. Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela in advocating and promoting medical marijuana.

“We are in agreement that marijuana for medicinal, strictly medicinal, purposes should be examined and legitimized. For recreational purposes, that’s an entirely different issue,” he said.

Albano is drafting a bill that would allow the use of marijuana by patients suffering from epilepsy and similar conditions.

He said members of the Philippine Moms for Medical Marijuana have asked him to champion their cause in Congress.

“I am seeking medical marijuana for certain patients only. If all else failed, why don’t we allow them to try it?” he said.

He said many states in America are now allowing medical marijuana.

“Research has so advanced that certain patients with brain-related ailments are responding positively to it,” he added.

Albano said one doctor-researcher who has changed his mind on medical marijuana and who has produced a documentary on it is Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent of American cable television giant CNN.

In an article posted on the CNN website, Gupta, a brain surgeon, apologized to the American people for opposing medical marijuana.

“I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis (marijuana),” he said.

He said in some patients, “marijuana is the only thing that works.”

“Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to two or three per month,” he said.

“I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana. We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that,” he wrote.

Gupta said in Spain and Israel, marijuana is now being researched as a possible cancer cure, while in the United States, citizens in 20 states and the District of Columbia have now voted to approve marijuana for medical applications, and more states will be making that choice soon.

He promised to do his part to help, genuinely and honestly, fill the remaining void in our knowledge on medical marijuana.

In a recent interview, Donabella Cunanan, a member of the Philippine Moms for Medical Marijuana who has an epileptic child, urged lawmakers to consider allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

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