Gray’s stance on medical marijuana to help push legalization

MANILA — Miss Universe Catriona Gray’s stance on medical marijuana could help push for the approval of the bill seeking to legalize its use in the country, a partylist lawmaker said on Monday.

During the pageant’s question and answer portion, Gray said she supports the legalization of marijuana for “medical use, but not so for recreational use.”

“Congratulations to Miss Universe Catriona Gray! We thank her for her stand on medical marijuana or cannabis. We are certain her statement during the pageant will convince Congress to expedite passage of HB (House Bill) 6517 into law,” Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo said.

The measure seeking to legalize and regulate the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has already hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives and is currently up for plenary consideration.

Salo, co-author of the bill and health advocate, said the bill would provide “compassion and better quality of life” to patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions.

These debilitating health conditions include cachexia, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscles spasms, including those associated with multiple sclerosis, he noted.

Meanwhile, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, principal author of the measure, has expressed approval of the new Miss Universe’s stand on medicinal marijuana.

“Of course, I like it,” Albano said in a text message to Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Albano said thousands of patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases in the Philippines would benefit from legalizing the medical use of cannabis.

He said the bill’s intent is to invoke the right of the patient to choose treatment and the duty of the physician to honor the patient’s decision, as well as to inform the patient of the side effects of such treatment.

The bill provides for the establishment of the Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center (MCCC) licensed by the Department of Health (DOH) to acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, sell, supply and dispense cannabis, devices or related supplies to registered qualifying patients.

It also seeks the creation of a Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facility (MCSCF) to conduct scientific and medical research on the medical use of cannabis and provides testing services for its potency and contaminants and mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to issue identification cards to qualified medical patients after a careful review of their required documents.

The DOH will be the lead regulatory agency in consultation with the Food and Drug Administration while the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency shall have a key role in monitoring and regulating the dispensation of medical cannabis in health facilities.