• “Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act” could legalise cannabis in the Philippines for medical purposes
  • The Committee on Health approved proposals for cultivation, regulation and sale of medicinal cannabis
  • Raw cannabis would be banned under the proposals
  • More than 10,000 have been killed in the country’s vicious “War on Drugs” over the past year

Medical cannabis may be gaining momentum in the least likely place on earth: The Philippines.

Despite the country’s current horrific “war on drugs,” a panel of the House of Representatives approved measures on Monday which seek to allow patients to use medicinal cannabis.

Victims of Philippines' War on Drugs

Under the proposed Bill 180, or Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, authored by House Representative Rodolfo Albano, seeks to legalise, regulate and research medicinal cannabis.

Licensed by the Philippines Department of Health, the bill would legislate the creation of the Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCC) which would allow specialty, private and hospitals accredited by the state, to sell, supply, and dispense cannabis to qualified patients or caregivers.

The bill itself actually recognized that that cannabis “has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or debilitating disease or medical conditions,” including:

  • Severe and chronic pain
  • Seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Severe Nausea
  • Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome

“I’m elated now that it passed the committee level.”
House Representative Rodolfo Albano

Identification cards will be issued to medical patients who qualify, if they suffer “debilitating medical conditions,” after they are certified by registered physicians.

Scientists researching medicinal cannabis

Further research into the potential medicinal properties of cannabis will also be legalised and regulated under the Bill.

Medical Cannabis Safety Compliance Facilities will be created, which, after registering with the Department of Health, will “conduct scientific and medical research on medical use of cannabis and provide testing services for its potency and contaminants relative to its safe and efficient use, cultivation, harvesting, packaging, labelling, distribution and proper security.”

Recreational cannabis will still be heavily prohibited, made explicitly clear by the Bill’s author, Albano: “It’s very clear in the bill. We’re not doing it for recreational purposes and we are not decriminalizing marijuana.”

The bill, however, would maintain the ban on raw cannabis, i.e. as a plant which could be smoked.

Discussing the Bill’s implications, Albano said: “You have to extract the properties of the medicine… You have to extract opium to make morphine.”

Albano added: “I’m elated now that it passed the committee level. It’s the first time it has advanced this far.”

The Bill still has a long way to go before being codified into law, it must still go to plenary for further debates.