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Questions if medical marijuana should be legalized in the Philippines is an issue that lawmakers should be debated and discussed according to Ambassador Manuel Teehankee, a medical and law expert.
He noted that debating on a topic is a healthy method of testing ideas and proposal, and “a good way by which the legislative process can be vetted with various ideas being exchanged.”
Dr. Junice L.D. Melgar, executive director of the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, agreed with Teehankee and explained that marijuana has several medical uses.
According to Melgar, marijuana can stop epileptic seizures and can help treat neuropathic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. It can also treat loss of appetite after chemotherapy or following treatment for HIV or AIDS.
She also mentioned that marijuana has side effects like the alteration of moods. In fact, among psychotropic drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, marijuana is the most potent, Melgar added.
“Even for small part, if we don’t give them space for public discussion — for people to be enlightened about it — we will forever be ignorant.”
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), on the other hand, has a strong action against the legalization of marijuana which is considered as illegal drug.
Director General Arturo Cacdac, PDEA chief, said that the government should implement first a very strong method on how to regulate the plantation of marijuana in order to endure it would not fall into wrong hands that may led to abuse.
Amid debates of whether the drug should be legalized or not, there is actually a pending bill at the lower chamber filed in May 2014.
But since it was filed in May 2014, no committee hearing has been held on the bill at the lower chamber.
Bill co-author Rep. Leah Paquiz appealed to her colleagues to take a look at the draft bill.
“We are at this stage, we have Filipinos who need care, we should give them compassionate care — this medical cannabis. There are a lot of medicines, but they are expensive,” Paquiz said (as quoted in CNN Philippines)
According to Paquiz, around 70 lawmakers already signed the bill as co-authors. But as the 16th Congress nears its end, the fate of the bill has turned grim.
/Lily Lopez/ Assisted Press