Can Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray Help Legalize Medical Marijuana?
This year’s Miss Universe pageant got a bit political, if not controversial, as the question and answer segment challenged contestants to respond to some of the most pressing social issues today.
Even the country’s bet, Catriona Gray, who would eventually take home the Miss Universe crown, was not spared. Before her big win, Gray’s response to the interview question worried some people.
When she was asked, “What is your opinion on the legalization of marijuana?” Gray's brief and straightforward response was, “I am for [marijuana] being used in the medical use but not for recreational use. If people were to argue, how about alcohol and cigarettes? Everything is good but in moderation.”
For someone coming from a country whose president is currently waging a war against illegal drugs, Gray may have probably given the safest response to a controversial question. After all, it eventually led her to win the crown, becoming only the fourth Filipina to do so.
Make no mistake though; Gray’s stance to have marijuana used for medical purposes is not entirely new, especially in the Philippines.
In November 2017, the country’s Health Secretary Francisco Duque II made headlines as he said that he sees no problem in the “compassionate use” of medical marijuana in the country. Less than a week later, he retracted the statement and said he is in favor of the usage of medical marijuana for “research purposes.”
His statements stemmed from the passing of the House of Representatives’ health committee last year of House Bill (HB) No. 180 titled, “An Act Providing Compassionate and Right of Access to Medical Cannabis and Expanding Research into its Medicinal Properties.”
The proposed measure seeks to legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis for the treatment of “chronic or debilitating disease or condition,” such as “cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” to name a few.
Under the bill, Medical Cannabis Compassionate Centers (MCCCs) will be put up and become the licensed facilities to acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture and sell cannabis and other related supplies to qualified patients and physicians.
But a year later, the bill has yet to reach second reading at the House of Representatives. It doesn’t help that medical groups such as the Philippine Medical Association and Philippine Neurological Association have also strongly opposed its passage as for them it can “endanger the health and safety” of the majority.
Sponsored and authored by Isabela First District Representative Rodolfo Albano III, the measure is only one of the three bills he has filed since 2014 that aim to legalize the use of medical marijuana. He also submitted HB 4477 during his first term as congressman in 2014 and House Bill 6517 last year, just before HB 180 was approved at the committee level.
But with Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray voicing her support for medical marijuana, Albano may have found one of his strongest and most influential allies yet.