We have bigger problems (Philippine Star)

Do we really have to do everything that America does?

First, the US Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell V. Hodges requires states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. The right of same-sex couples to marry, according to the Court, is derived from the guarantees of equal protection and due process and the fundamental right to marry.

Now, some groups want same-sex marriage legislated in the Philippines.

Then there is marijuana use, possession and sale in the United States, which remains illegal under federal law, has been legalized in a number of states.

The use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana has been entirely legalized in the states ofColorado,Washington,AlaskaandOregon, as well as in the cities of PortlandandSouth Portlandin Maine. The District of Columbiahas fully legalized recreational and medical marijuana, but recreational commercial sale is currently blocked byCongress. Twelve states have bothmedical marijuanaand decriminalization laws, while 10 states,GuamandPuerto Ricohave only legalized medical marijuana. Three states and theUS Virgin Islands have only decriminalized possession laws.

Now, there is a bill in our Congress, sponsored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III that seeks to legalize cannabis or marijuana for medical purposes.

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According to Albano, children with frequent medical seizures who were given medical marijuana reportedly felt a great improvement in their condition.

I feel for the victims and their parents, and relatives who want an alternative to the more expensive morphine.

Unfortunately, I agree with the position taken by the medical profession in general in the Philippines that the bill, if it becomes a law, can do more harm than good.

Among the groups that oppose the bill, according to news reports, are the Philippine College of Physicians, the Philippine Medical Association, Child Neurology Society of the Philippines, Group for Addiction Psychiatry of the Philippines, Pain Society of the Philippines, Philippine League Against Epilepsy, Inc., Philippine Neurological Association, Philippine Psychiatric Association, Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology, UP-PGH National Poison Management and Control Center and the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine.

I agree with PCP foundation president Dr. Tony Leachon the weak regulatory environment in the Philippines will not allow government authorities to control possible abuses in marijuana’s use.

Dr. Leachon shared with us a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine that revealed how the commercialization of medical marijuana in Colorado has allowed the proliferation of new consumable marijuana products, including candies, lozenges, baked goods, and beverages. “In the medical marijuana market, these products were intended to be used under the guidance of a caregiver or dispensary operator by patients who were uncomfortable with smoking or vaporizing. Little attention was paid to developing standardize dosing levels, guidance for novice users, or an infrastructure for addressing food safety and contamination issues. In addition, legalization of marijuana cultivation for dispensaries facilitated improvement of growing conditions and horticultural practices, which has led to an increase in potency.”

The article added, “the availability of diverse edibles puts young children at risk for unintentional poisoning states where medical marijuana is legal have been shown to have higher rates of calls to poison-control centers for unintentional marijuana exposure in children under nine years of age The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado has also taught us about potential adverse effects of edible products. Soon after recreational marijuana was legalized, edible products were implicated in two deaths in Colorado”

If we really want to do what the Americans do, and follow how they interpreted their due process and equal protection rights, then shouldn’t we legalize abortion because, according to the US Supreme Court in the case of Roe v. Wade, there is a right of personal privacy protected by the due process clause?

Shouldn’t we legalize divorce because America does and because we are the last country in the world (other than the Vatican City) were divorce is illegal?

Shouldn’t we allow euthanasia or at least physician aid in dying (PAD), or assisted suicide which is legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Bernalillo County, New Mexico?

Should we loosen the controls on gun ownership and possession in the Philippines just like in the US where it is one of their most treasured freedoms and constitutional rights, and which Americans are not willing to let go of, not even with the increasing incidences of gun-related violence and deaths?

The point is, not everything that is good for America is good for us.

We have bigger problems that our legislators need to focus on. Whether our police authorities admit it or not, our crime rates are getting worse and our criminals are becoming more brazen. It seems there are more vehicular accidents and deaths caused by trucks and buses. Our roads have become more and more dangerous. We no longer feel safe anywhere we go. I have talked to two family court judges this weekend and they told me the number of rape cases they are handling, including incestuous rape, has increased. “Ang dami ngayon,” is how one of the judges described the volume of rape cases pending in her sala.

We need leaders who can decide how to best use our limited resources for the greater good. If we really want to ease the suffering of our people, then shouldn’t we improve the state of our public hospitals and make medicines and medical treatment more affordable? Why are there areas in our country that still do not have access to medical treatment? Why are there places where students have to cross rivers and walk for several hours in unpaved rural roads to attend public school?

Given all these problems, is the medical marijuana bill that important?

For comments, email at maryannreyesphilstar@gmail.com