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Lawmakers push medical marijuana bills

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Lawmakers push medical marijuana bills
“This is a major breakthrough since many critics have been using this provision as their reasoning to stop the passage of my medical compassion cannabis House Bill 279,” Isabela Rep. Tonypet Albano said.
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MANILA, Philippines — The decision of the United Nations to remove medical marijuana from the list of what it considers as “dangerous drugs” has been welcomed by some members of the House of Representatives.

“This is a major breakthrough since many critics have been using this provision as their reasoning to stop the passage of my medical compassion cannabis House Bill 279,” Isabela Rep. Tonypet Albano said.

The measure, or the original medical marijuana bill, was authored by former congressman and now Isabela Gov. Rodito Albano which his brother, Tonypet, refiled in the current 18th Congress through his policy adviser, Dr. Socorro Reyes.

“The bill has been filed since 2014. I have with me the Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society, parents and patients of those who need medical cannabis because they have been very sick,” she said.

“They have always looked forward to getting medical marijuana for a cure to their illnesses,” Reyes said with optimism. “We are very hopeful that this will be approved. We hope that this bill will be passed this time around because patients badly need it.”

Another medical marijuana advocate, Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, said the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) decision to delete cannabidiol (CBD) should prompt the House committee on health to “take urgent action” on his House Bill 3961.

CBD is legal in 31 of the 50 states of the US and in 59 other countries, while THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is illegal in almost every part of the world. The use of medical cannabis is legal among 60 countries across the globe.

In comparison, Villafuerte clarified that CBD – the non-addictive, non-psychoactive component and non-intoxicating strain of the cannabis (marijuana) plant – is entirely different from THC which gives persons a “euphoric high.”

Nevertheless, the Bicol lawmaker wants to take the opportunity for the government to legalize the production and international marketing of CBD “to make it a lot more accessible and cheaper for Filipinos in need of this revolutionary medicine.”

According to him, this latest UN report in effect “bolstered the international recognition and commercial marketing of the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of CBD.”

Villafuerte, a supporter of President Duterte’s war on drugs, said the speedy approval of HB 3961 will not run counter to the government’s policy against the illicit drug trade because “CBD is the medicinal strain of the cannabis plant.”

“It is neither addictive nor producing the so-called buzz or high for recreational users,” he explained. “It’s about time for the House health panel to submit HB 3961 to a committee vote so lawmakers could finally take action on this proposal.”

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