Sen. Robin Padilla has filed a bill seeking to legalize the use of medical marijuana, allowing patients to avail it for treatment while ensuring that it will not be prone to abuse.
Senate Bill 230 is one of the first 10 bills that Padilla filed in his new role as legislator. He topped the May 9 elections with over 26 million votes.
Padilla said the government should give an exception and allow the use of cannabis for "compassionate purpose" for patients proven to be in dire need of treatment while providing the strictest regulation to ensure that its casual use can be avoided.
He cited the World Health Organization noting several studies that prove that cannabis consumption can be helpful in reducing pain and nausea and treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
He saie some 30 countries, including the U.S. and Thailand, allow the use of cannabis to treat people with severe seizures and manage the side effects of chemotherapy.
"Although experiences abroad provide evidence to its efficacy, the State must intervene in order to assure that users consume only the proper and needed doses and in a form that is manufactured in an environment approved by the Dangerous Drugs Board," Padilla said in the explanatory note of his bill.
Who can use medical marijuana?
Under Padilla's proposal, medical cannabis may only be used for the following debilitating medical conditions, among other illnesses identified by the DOH through the Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee:
- multiple sclerosis
- damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord
- rheumatoid arthritis or similar chronic autoimmune deficiency
- diseases requiring hospice care
- severe nausea
- sleep disorders
- mood disorders
- recurring migraine headaches
The DOH is mandated to issue registry ID cards to qualified medical cannabis patients. The department will also establish Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers or MCCC in public tertiary hospitals and set up a Prescription Monitoring System and an electronic database of registered medical cannabis patients and their physicians.
What are the penalties for violation?
Qualified patients are prohibited to possess or smoke cannabis in its raw form, give or sell it, or use it for purposes other than for treatment. Doctors are also not allowed to certify or prescribe medical cannabis without an S2 license or to someone who is not a qualified patient.
The following safeguards are provided in the bill to prevent the abuse of marijuana:
- 12 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for qualified patients who will abuse cannabis; or give or sell it;
- 12 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for officials or employees of the MCCC who will dispense medical cannabis without written certifications from the certifying physician or registry ID cards of qualified patients;
- 12 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for those who will use falsified ID cards or S2 licenses to obtain medical cannabis;
- 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for doctors who certify and prescribe ng medical cannabis without S2 licenses or prescribe such for patients who are not qualified, or prescribe cannabis for their own use or for the use of relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity;
- 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for officials or employees of the MCCC who supply medical cannabis to unqualified patients;
- 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to P10 million for those who buy medical cannabis but are not authorized to do so.