MANILA, July 23 (Mabuhay) — Senate Bill 230 that seeks to legalize the medical use of marijuana will not promote the use of raw cannabis but it will be in capsule and oil form for use in debilitating medical conditions of qualified patients.

Bill author Senator Robinhood Padilla is pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana as a “compassionate alternative means of medical treatment.”

The bill, Padilla said, will also seek to expand research into the medicinal properties of marijuana, which is widely used in other countries as herbal medicine to treat certain conditions, including gout, rheumatism, and malaria.

“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.

Under the bill, “debilitating medical conditions” may include cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord, epilepsy, human immunodeficiency virus/Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, 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 bill designates the DOH as the principal regulatory agency that shall establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers in public tertiary hospitals and set up a prescription monitoring system and an electronic database of registered medical cannabis patients and their physicians with issued registry identification.

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.

Padilla assured that he included safeguards to “ensure that abuses for casual use or profiteering” would be avoided, which include 12 years to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to PHP10 million, depending on the violation and the violator.

Under the bill, doctors who violate the provisions of the measure face suspension or revocation of their professional licenses.  (MNS)

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