Moms with ill kids pin hope on medical marijuana

Posted at 01/24/2014 4:05 AM

MANILA – Members of the Philippines Moms for Medical Marijuana on Thursday said they are not seeking to legalize the recreational use of marijuana but rather, use the plant's medicinal properties.

Dr. Donnabel Cunanan, a dentist and mother of an epileptic child, said their group just wants legal access to medical marijuana in the country for sick people who might benefit from it.

"Hindi kami nagsusulong na maging legal ang marijuana, ang isinusulong ng aming grupo, ang Philippines Moms for Medical Marijuana at Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society, ay magkaroon ng safe and legal access for medical marijuana ang mga may sakit na tao," she said in an interview on "News+" on ABS-CBN Sports + Action.

Cunan said that her child has a partial seizure disorder, an illness which synthetic drugs can’t cure.

"Lahat po ng mga kamag-anak namin, saksi sa paghihirap namin na palagi pa rin pong nagsi-seizure ang anak namin even with two medications. So dahil po dito delayed na delayed po ang anak ko, di po nakakalakad, di po siya nakakasalita. Palagi ko po siyang isinusugod [sa ospital] na walang malay, parang patay, nakatulala," she said.

Meanwhile Cecil Cerda of the same group said her 7-year-old child has been suffering from seizure for 6 years and has been declared "retarded" by doctors.

Cerda said they already tried different kinds of medicine but the illness of her child remains.

"[Ang anak ko po ay] 7 years old, 6 years nang nagsa-suffer bilang epileptic na bata. Maskit sabihin, masakit pakinggan pero na-diagnose na po siya na mentally retarded na siya. So kaya gusto ko po, bilang isang magulang, na subukan itong medical marijuana dahil lahat na po nasubukan na namin. Andami-dami na po niyang gamot. Siguro kung iisa-isahin ko po, nakakapitong gamot na kami [sa] trial and error," she said.

Cunanan, Cerda and the rest of the moms from the group are calling on the government, specifically lawmakers, to at least study the proposal for people to have legal access to medical marijuana.

While members of the group have found an ally in Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano and the Department of Health (DOH), Iligan City Representative Vicente Belmonte, Jr., chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said he doesn't believe in the medicinal value of cannabis.

According to the organization Foundation for a Drug-Free World, marijuana is banned in many countries because of its side effects such as palpitation, dizziness, confusion, depression, panic attack, anxiety and birth defects.

Meanwhile, according to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana can cause problems with memory, learning and behavior. When smoked, it can cause coughing and breathing problems, it said.

But Cunanan clarified that they are not looking for "weed" but for only specific marijuana chemicals that, according to studies, can cure epilepsy.

"Gusto naming klaruhin, ang hinihingi naming marijuana ay hindi po damo. Ito po ay isang uri ng marijuana component na tinatawag na THC at CBD. 'Yung THC po, 'yun po ang sinasabi ng mga tao na nakakapagbigay ng high o psychoactive component. 'Yung CBD po, 'yun po ang may kakayahan na makagaling ng epilepsy, specifically 'yung sakit po ng mga anak namin, in the form of oil," Cunanan said.

She explained that CBD is a kind of cannabinoid, a chemical compound found inside the body's endocannabinoid system.

Based on her research, Cunanan said that in the case of epileptics like her child, additional amount of cannabinoid, which is only found in marijuana, is needed.

She particularly mentioned a research by Dr. Sanjau Gupta, a CNN correspondent who was once a skeptic of the medicinal value of marijuana but eventually became a supporter after a long study.

Cunanan said the group respects Belmonte's reactions on their plea, but they are still hoping that the Congress will study their proposal.

"Kung kayo po ay magulang kagaya namin, siguro gagapang rin po kayo sa Senado o Kongreso para humingi ng tulong," Cunanan said.

Medical marijuana is legal in some countries like Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and in 14 states in America.

New York City is also studying possibilities of allowing medical marijuana use.