MANILA - Some lawmakers on Monday said they are open to legalizing medical marijuana in the country.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said the substance is used in treating patients suffering from debilitating conditions, such as epilepsy.
"Honestly, I’m okay with it because I know some of my friends whose children have epilepsy and it saved them," he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said he wants clear safeguards to be established first to prevent abuse.
“Gusto ko mapakinggan ang debate. Kung medical, baka puwede. Huwag ang recreational,” Lacson said.
“Baka mamaya, oo nga ang intention maganda. Medical ang gamit pero baka magkaroon ng proliferation ng marijuana para sa recreational. Ma-defeat ang purpose,” he added.
Senator Grace Poe is likewise worried about the enforcement of any such law in the country "because it can be abused." She noted, lawmakers have not had a "full-blown hearing" on this matter.
She also raised concern about the urban structure in the Philippines, where "people are cooped up in one place" because the communities are not developed to be "open livable space(s)."
"If you have marijuana that’s so accessible, people will just stay na lang siguro at home and bench out. I’m just saying, unless it’s probably dispensed in a hospital, under supervision, maybe," she told ANC's Headstart.
House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, is pending before the House of Representatives.
The measure prescribes the rules for the proper use of medical marijuana including the designation of a qualified medical cannabis physician, a qualified medical cannabis patient who shall be issued an identification card, a qualified medical cannabis caregiver and a qualified medical cannabis compassionate center.
Last year, advocates of the legalization of the substance had also assured that access to the drug will only be for qualified patients.
Some parents of children with serious mesdical conditions had also called for the passage of the measure.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier expressed approval of using medical cannabis.
On Monday, he joked about using the substance to get through his hectic schedule.
Possession of at least 10 grams of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil, or at least 500 grams of marijuana is punishable with life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million, as stipulated in Republic Act 9165 or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. - with report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News