Senate urged to pass bill allowing risk-free purchase of medical cannabis | Inquirer News

Senate urged to pass bill allowing risk-free purchase of medical cannabis

/ 05:39 PM December 07, 2022
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FILE PHOTO: Cannabis oil products made in Thailand are seen on display during the launch of the first official medical cannabis clinic to provide free treatment for the first batch of patients taking part in a monitoring research program in Bangkok, Thailand January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge SIlva

MANILA, Philippines — Being able to procure medical cannabis without the risk of being arrested for illegal drug possession is a concern for parents of sick children who would benefit from the treatment, a physician told the Senate committee on health and demography on Wednesday.

In the said committee’s hearing on Senate Bill (SB) No. 230 or the proposed Medical Cannabis Compassionate Access Act of the Philippines, Cannahopefuls Inc. president Dr. Donnabel Trias-Cunanan said the bill — authored by Senator Robinhood Padilla — would allow the safe purchase of cannabis-based products for the treatment of epilepsy and cerebral palsy.


Cannabis-based products are derived from the oil of the marijuana plant, which is illegal to cultivate or possess in the country.

“We believe that this law would give us legal access — number one for affordable medicine not only for the rich but also for the poor patients,” Cunanan told Senators present during the hearing, including Padilla and Senators Nancy Binay and Bong Go, in a mix of English and Filipino.


“Second, it would give us safe access — where we would not be arrested or jailed because we just want to obtain medicine good for our children, safe from pesticides and insecticides which can harm our children,” she added.

Cunanan, whose child also suffers from an uncontrollable form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome, along with cerebral palsy, also claimed that the current setup, where people needing medication for such ailments would have to make compassionate special permits, is not compassionate.

“The compassionate special permit is not compassionate at all. First of all, it is very hard to apply for this process; we have to go through a needle’s eye — I asked hospitals for a thick medical history or abstract of my child; second, I asked for understanding from my doctor so that the medicine could be prescribed to us,” she said.

Cunanan added that cannabis-based treatment and supplements like epidiolex are expensive even for working parents like her and his husband, as it costs around US$32,000 — or around P1.6 million.

“This is not compassionate because this costs US$32,000. The only available as of today […] is epidiolex, which is a cannabis extract that is in synthetic form, which can help with the intractable seizure of our child,” Cunanan said.

“Even if my husband and I have jobs, we cannot afford the P1.6 million worth of epidiolex for my child’s ailment, so we as mothers seek the compassion of this honorable committee, Senator Robin, thank you very much,” she added.

Cunanan said they could not afford more deaths — noting that her child is always at the brink of passing away every time she suffers from a seizure.


“We are seeking your help to kindly pass it because as of today, as I speak, we have around 80 patients who died already […] and we cannot afford to wait for a longer time, my child recently had a seizure, and when she has seizures she is on the brink of death because she loses the capability to breathe that’s why even it’s so difficult, we are fighting for this,” Cunanan said.

Padilla’s SB No. 230 seeks to allow the use of cannabis-based treatment and supplements to aid debilitating medical conditions such as:

Damage to the nervous system of the spinal cord, with an objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Rheumatoid arthritis or similar chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorders
Diseases requiring admission into hospice care
Severe nausea of any cause
Sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea
Mood disorders including severe anxiety, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder
Recurring migraine headaches

The bill also states that the Department of Health may include other diseases and ailments even after the bill has been passed.

“The use of medical cannabis is hereby permitted, as herein provided for in this Act, to treat or alleviate a qualified patient’s debilitating medical condition or symptoms, which includes its acquisition, possession, transportation, delivery, dispensation, administration, cultivation, or manufacturing for medical purposes,” the bill stated.

Padilla’s bill has gained support from various groups, who said it is time to help people with nervous-related ailments by allowing the compassionate use of cannabis-related treatment. According to the Senator, not only would his bill help sick patients, but also generate income for the economy.


Medicinal cannabis legalization: It’s high time for the Philippines 

Medical marijuana can contribute to economy, gov’t projects — Robin Padilla 

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