The Department of Health (DOH) announced its support for the legalisation of Marijuana for medical purposes.
Department of Health Secretary, Ted Hermosa, affirms his support for legalising the medical marijuana bill. In a rent forum, Hermosa states, “We will make sure that the medical marijuana law will be passed.” The FDA in the Philippines now permits patients to use medical marijuana. They must first obtain a compassionate special permit.
Secretary Hermosa states his reason being, “Medical cannabis is hard to obtain in the Philippines despite the compassionate special permit due to the long duration of processing before it is granted to the patient.”
Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte Jr., Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative, backed up this position highlighting the tedious process to obtain the said permit and the costly importation of medical marijuana.
Outpouring Support for Medical Marijuana
Both the Senate and the House have existing bills regarding the legalisation of medical marijuana. House Bill 7817, strongly supported by Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Meanwhile, Senator Robinhood Padilla endorses the Senate Bill 230, “Medical Cannabis Compassionate Access Act.”
The support of medical marijuana does not end in the Congress, it was also seen in a recent survey done with the citizens of the Philippines. About 63% of the respondents are in favor of cannabis legalisation for medical purposes while the remaining 37% are unsure about it.
Future Medical Marijuana Facility
Many advocates of medical marijuana believe that it is just a matter of time before the government passes the bill. Thus, a future medical cannabis facility in the Philippines is currently being developed by Bauertek Corporation.
In a recent panel interview during the weekly forum of Bauertek Corporation, Dr. Richard Nixon Gomez, a scientist, inventor, and general manager of the company shared the vision for the infrastructure of the facility. He shared, “The facility that will be built in the country is 13 times bigger than Bauertek Corporation in Guiguinto, Bulacan.”
The son of Dr. Richard Gomez, Rigel Gomez, who recently returned from his visit to the big medical cannabis facilities in the US, emphasised “The first thing that should be addressed is the proper media campaign to educate people about the benefits of medical cannabis.”
The younger Gomez also shared his insight about making medical marijuana in the country. He stated, “The advantage of producing medicine from medical marijuana is that the Philippines is an optimal location to grow marijuana due to the climate. In addition, the collaboration of the government with the company implementing proper regulations will ensure the production of the highest quality with the best equipment in Asia.”
Countries that Use Medical Marijuana
Around 60 countries have already allowed the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Israel is recognized to be one of the countries with an admirable regulation program for granting a license to medical marijuana. Several countries, including the United States, adopted similar programs. Patients there need a doctor’s prescription to access the medicine.
Concerns toward Legalisation
Secretary Hermosa’s statement on the legalisation of medical marijuana piqued the attention of the public. Those skeptical of the legalization of medical marijuana questioned the risk of recreational use if not properly regulated.
Citizens voiced concerns about the Philippines. Its disciplined, small population might face risks similar to the US. In the US, nearly everyone can access “medical marijuana cards.” Widespread fraud in obtaining marijuana causes this.
A Risk to Take
At the end of the day, an honest goal of legalising medical marijuana will help a handful of patients. The intention behind marijuana legalisation is well-meaning. However, it still holds a great risk that needs further attention from the government.
If legalisation becomes possible, the Philippine government should bridge the gap in its laws and strict implementation.
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