MANILA - Patients and parents of sick individuals will have to lobby for the legalization of medical marijuana anew after President Rodrigo Duterte rejected its passage within his term, the author of the measure passed by the House of Representatives said Monday.
Duterte, who previously expressed openness to signing a measure allowing the use of medical marijuana, on Friday said he will not approve of it during his time as it could be used as an excuse to plant marijuana.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, author of House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, said he respects Duterte's decision, adding that he cannot debate with the President as a congressman due to separation of powers.
Asked if he is surrendering to the possibility of his bill not being enacted within the current administration, Albano told ANC's Early Edition: "Yes, that's the prerogative of the President."
Pressed if he would at least try to explain the bill to the President and make some clarifications that might enlighten him and change his mind, Albano said, "I don't think so."
"I had so many instance with the President in Isabela, talking with the President for hours—I never discussed this bill. I think it’s up to the moms and to the patients to lobby to the President and explain to the President this bill," he said.
"I passed it already in the House, so it’s up to the Senate if they want to—and I think the Senate President is also against it. If the President and the Senate President are against it, what are the chances of this bill? It’s up to the lobby of the parents and of the patients," he added.
Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III had said in previous interviews that the medical marijuana bill is no longer needed because the Food and Drug Administration already has guidelines for issuing "compassionate special permits."
He also fears a law legalizing medical marijuana would only be taken advantage of by people who want to sell or use the plant for recreational use.
In Albano's bill, medical marijuana is limited to cannabis oil extracted from the plant and its supply will be under government supervision.
Possession of marijuana in its raw form is still punishable under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, he said.
Medical cannabis is legal in United States, Canada, and Poland, among others. Sixty-five percent of medical marijuana patients in the US used it for chronic pain.
After that, the most common reasons patients used cannabis were for multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Based on a 2017 report by the National Academies of Science that assessed the scientific evidence supporting the use of marijuana to treat specific conditions, the study team also looked at how often medical uses are evidence-based. They found uses had strong backing 86 percent of the time. - with a report from Reuters