A senator is hoping that the Philippines can follow Thailand in becoming only the second Asian country to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Former movie star and newly elected lawmaker Robin Padilla last month filed a Senate bill to "legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis, which has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses for known debilitating medical conditions."

The bill would mandate the Department of Health to take the lead in establishing and overseeing centers where licensed medical professionals can dispense cannabis to "qualified" patients.

The country's first piece of legislation for medical cannabis was filed in Congress in 2014 but never made it to the Senate. Former President Rodrigo Duterte, who instigated a war on drugs in 2016, said at the time that he was in favor of legalizing cannabis but would leave the decision to lawmakers.

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