Philippines' House of Representatives Passes Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill
The legislation to establish a government-run medical cannabis program would establish storefront Compassionate Centers and allow hospitals to dispense the all-natural drug.
Published on January 30, 2019

Legal cannabis is making waves in the Philippines.

According to a report from CNN Philippines, the Southeast Asian island nation’s House of Representatives passed a third and final version of House Bill 6517, or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, on Tuesday.

If written into law, HB 6517 would allow doctors licensed by the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe cannabis to patients diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition.” Under HB 6517, cannabis could be used to treat any medical condition that produces “cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizure, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis.”

For qualifying patients, cannabis would be available from licensed hospitals and Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers, which would open throughout the country.

The legislation would also create an Advisory Committee on Medical Use of Cannabis, which would then be responsible for writing specific growth and distribution parameters and overseeing the state-run industry. 

In 2002, Filipino legislators passed the Dangerous Drugs Act, which allows for the use of medical cannabis with Food and Drug Administration approval. But without any way to legally acquire the drug, that law has not made the same impact that lawmakers expect from HB 6517.

The Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act will now move to the Senate, and then to a Conference Committee, before moving to the desk of President Rodrigo Duterte.

President Duterte has been the focus of international ire for years over his hardline policies on illicit drug sales and consumption, with human rights groups calling Duterte’s death penalty for drug dealers a clear violation of basic decency. 

Despite his tyrannical stance on hard drugs like methamphetamine and heroin, Duterte has said that he will approve any medical marijuana legislation that makes it to his office. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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