MANILA - Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his opposition to the bill legalizing medical cannabis..
Advocates of the legalization of medical cannabis held a dialogue with Albano at the House of Representatives.
He plans to invoke a House rule that allows a bill approved by the House on third and final reading in the preceding Congress to be fast-tracked, and he expects the bill to face a real battle in the Senate.
"I don't see any problems in the lower House. Magiging labanan po dito sa Senado," he said.
Albano is refiling the bill shepherded by his brother, then Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, in the 17th Congress.
Albano explained however he would like his proposal to have a few tweaks.
"I’m looking at the provisions where strengthen natin yung penalties nang sa ganun mawala 'yung pangamba ng society," he said.
One advocate, "Girlie," a mother of a child suffering from epileptic seizures, could not hide her emotions as she recalled the advice of doctors to have her daughter treated overseas so she can get cannabis based treatments.
Girlie said she cannot afford it.
Other patients who look to cannabis for relief and healing also spoke during the dialogue.
Cielito Sampayo, one of the advocates said, “Mother of 2 my eldest is Nina who has brain tumor with hydrocephalus. Last year my son was also diagnosed with cancer. We are hoping for this to be legalized kasi po my son is on chemotherapy.”
Another advocate, Sharon Rosenfeld, said: “Hindi naman po nakakaadik 'yan. Alisin na natin itong stigma.”
Albano hopes to be able to take the inputs and stories of advocates and use them in pushing for the passage of the bill.
He explained he wants to make sure that the medical aspect gets passed first.
House Bill 279, or the "Philippine Medical Cannabis Compassionate Act", provides the right of access to medical cannabis as a compassionate alternative means of medical treatment, expanding research into its medicinal properties.