By Eimor P. Santos
All seven senatorial candidates in the CNN Philippines’ forum on Sunday favor the legalization of medical marijuana.
Former Interior Secretaries Raffy Alunan and Mar Roxas, former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, former Congressmen Neri Colmenares and Erin Tañada, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, and former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc all raised their “yes” cards when asked the question: “Should marijuana be legalized for ailments such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, seizures, and serious chronic pain?”
House Bill No. 6517 or the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act was approved on second reading at the lower chamber last January 23. Some of its authors hope it would be passed before the end of the 17th Congress this year.
Malacañang earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte favored the use of medical marijuana and would support any legislative measure consistent with his stand. His ally, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, vouched for the effectiveness of medical marijuana, saying it relieved her neck pain whenever she was in a country where it is legal.
Medical marijuana is legal in some countries including Uruguay, Canada, Thailand, Germany, Australia, Ireland, and some states in the U.S.. It is also allowed with prescription in the United Kingdom.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, has said, however, that such a law is unnecessary because Republic Act No. 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 already permits it medical marijuana. A provision under the act states that patients can apply for a “compassionate special permit” from the Food and Drug Administration to allow unregistered drugs in the country to be used for medication.
In the first of CNN Philippines’ series of senatorial fora last December, Senator JV Ejercito, former Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Sergio Osmeña III, and De La Salle University College of Law Dean Chel Diokno also said they were in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.
Senator Bam Aquino, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino said they were against the proposed measure.