Sotto: No hope for medical marijuana in Senate

Commercial greenhouse production of organic medical marijuana in Port Townsend, Washington —AP

The Senate is not inclined to pass a medical marijuana bill, according to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto said on Sunday that the Senate had no medical marijuana bill.


He said that while newspapers reported that a medical marijuana bill had cleared the health committee of the House of Representatives, the measure was actually one that sought access to medical cannabis.

“The marijuana leaf has around 30,000 elements and cannabis oil is just one of them,” Sotto said in a phone interview.


He said the bill approved by the House health committee last week sought the legalization of the use of cannabis for medical purposes in the Philippines.

For study only

He said the Senate could only commit to study the compassionate use of medical cannabis and that this, if ever, would entail the amendment of the compassionate use provision of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Sotto, a former head of the Dangerous Drugs Board, said he would oppose any medical marijuana proposal in the Senate.

“There is no hope for such bill here … It’s dead in the water,” he said.

Vicente Sotto III

Sotto insisted that a medical marijuana bill might open the doors for the legal use of marijuana in the Philippines, which would violate a UN treaty signed by the country.

The closest Senate measure to a medical marijuna bill is Senate Bill No. 1313, or the public health intervention for drug abuse bill, which was filed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros in February.

Hontiveros’ bill seeks a comprehensive public health approach to the country’s drug policy in the wake of President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.


‘Barangay-based’ rehab

In a text message, Hontiveros said her bill was more a “barangay-based drug rehabilitation and treatment” proposal.

“Medical marijuana is just one of its many provisions,” she said.

The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on health and demography.

The measure includes a provision in which “the delivery, possession, transfer, transportation, or use of cannabis and other dangerous drugs intended for medical use or to treat or alleviate a person’s medical condition or symptoms associated with his or her debilitating disease … shall be allowed upon application and approval of the Food and Drug Administration.”

Last week, the House health committee approved the draft report on the proposed Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, which was authored principally by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III.

Albano cited studies that showed marijuana could be used to control epileptic seizures, pain management in multiple sclerosis and arthritis, treatment of symptoms associated with HIV-AIDS and palliative care in end-stage cancer.

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TAGS: 17th Congress, Medical marijuana, Risa Hontiveros, Senate, Vicente Sotto III
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