'Medical marijuana bill prohibits pot sessions'

By Jess Diaz, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 02 2014 09:13 AM | Updated as of Jun 02 2014 05:13 PM

MANILA - Pot sessions will not be allowed under the bill that seeks to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll, who authored the measure, said yesterday.

He said the bill contains strict provisions that would regulate the cultivation and use of medical marijuana.

He said only patients with debilitating medical conditions who are screened by competent doctors would be allowed to use it.

In his explanatory note on the bill, Albano said, “Modern research has confirmed the beneficial uses of cannabis (or marijuana) in treating and alleviating the pain, nausea and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, as found by the National Institute of Medicine of the US.”

He said at least 20 states in the US, Israel, Canada, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic have allowed the use of medical marijuana.

“Other states in the European Union, including Finland, Portugal, Spain, and Luxembourg, in recognition of the medical value of cannabis, have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization, whereby possession and use of cannabis rarely lead to criminal prosecution,” he added.

Albano pointed out that in the Philippines, the law prohibiting dangerous drugs actually allows the cultivation of marijuana by laboratories and research centers “for medical experiments or research purposes or for the creation of new types of medicine.”

The bill proposes the creation of a medical cannabis regulatory authority under the Department of Health to regulate the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The authority would issue identification cards to patients who, in its evaluation, are qualified to use medical marijuana. All information relating to patients would be treated as confidential.

A qualified patient would be prohibited from possessing or using medical marijuana in public transport or a public place, or from operating any vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.

He would not be allowed to use marijuana for purposes other than treating his debilitating medical condition.

He would not be permitted to undertake tasks using body or motor functions impaired by his medical marijuana treatment.

An authorized physician would be prohibited from prescribing marijuana for purposes other than treating a medical condition covered by the proposed law.

The Albano bill prescribes penalties for offenders.

The secretary of health would be mandated to issue implementing guidelines.

A group of parents calling themselves Philippine Moms for Medical Marijuana has been advocating the use of medical marijuana.