SENATOR Robin Padilla, who prides himself to be the Cordilleran senator,  is pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana or cannabis as an alternative treatment option in the Philippines.

This may help sort out Cordillera’s illicit marijuana industry. 

Senate Bill 230 seeks said legalization, as well as expanding research into the medical properties of cannabis. It also contains “safeguards” to prevent casual use and profiteering off of cannabis in the country.

“The State should, by way of exception, allow the use of cannabis for compassionate purposes to promote the health and well-being of citizens proven to be in dire need of such while at the same time providing the strictest regulations to ensure that abuses for casual use or profiteering be avoided,” he said in his bill.

The bill would allow the use of medical cannabis in the form of processed products such as capsules and cannabis oil, for the use of “qualified patients” with “debilitating medical conditions.”

The bill defines “debilitating medical condition” to include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis or similar chronic autoimmune deficiency, diseases requiring hospice care, severe nausea, sleep disorders, mood disorders, recurring migraine headaches, and other debilitating medical conditions identified by the Department of Health (DOH) through the Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee.

The DOH will be in charge of regulation of medical cannabis, including prescription monitoring and a database for registered patients and their physicians, and issuing ID cards to qualified patients. The DOH is also tasked to set up Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCCs) in public tertiary hospitals.

Under the bill, the Food and Drug Administration will test medical cannabis products, while the Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency will monitor and regulate medical cannabis.

It also provides penalties for cannabis abuse, including 12 years imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for qualified patients who “abuse” cannabis, give it away, or sell it to others, members of the MCCCs who dispense cannabis without written certifications from a certifying physician and without registry ID cards from a qualified patient, and for those who use falsified IDs to obtain medical cannabis.

It also prescribes a harsher penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for doctors who certify and prescribe cannabis without licenses, to patients who are not qualified, or for their own use or the use of relatives, MCCC members who supply cannabis to unqualified patients, and those who buy medical cannabis without authorization.

Under the bill, a doctor who violates the provisions of the measure faces the suspension or revocation of their professional license.