Duterte withdraws marijuana legalization bid

President Rodrigo Duterte will not allow the legalized use of medical marijuana during his term, Malacañang reiterated on Tuesday, March 12. (Philstar.com photo by KJ Rosales)

Malacañang announced on Tuesday, March 12, that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer push for the legalization of medical marijuana because he felt that it might go out of hand.

“Kasi ang feeling niya (Duterte) you will be using that as an excuse, baka lumaki nang lumaki lang (Duterte feels that you will use that an excuse and it might go out of hand),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said as reported by ABS-CBN News.

The chief executive said that the legalization of medical cannabis might push through but later on clarified “not during his time.” Panelo echoed the sentiment noting: “sa ibang panahon siguro, sabi niya (maybe some other time).”

However, the spokesperson emphasized that the president might still root for the legalization of medical marijuana if doctors and medical experts of the said drug would prove its necessity in curing diseases.

“Ang sabi niya pa, dapat yung mga medical yung mag-decide diyan kung talagang totoong nakakagamot yan (Duterte said medical professionals should decide whether medical marijuana is really effective),” Panelo stated.

Medical marijuana group still pushes

Despite Duterte’s withdrawal of support in the said legalization, the Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society (PCCS) insisted that it will continue its fight for the approval of medical marijuana’s use.

In a Facebook post, the medical marijuana group urged the public and cannabis advocates alike to push for its legal usage and accessibility.

“To all patients and their family members advocating for medical cannabis, are you ready and willing to continue the fight for legal, regulated and safe access to affordable medical cannabis?” the post stated.

“Hanggang saan ninyo pwedeng ipaglaban ang medical cannabis? Kaya bang higit pa sa Facebook postings at comments? Kaya bang lampas pa sa social media? Handa bang dalhin ang laban hanggang kalsada, hanggang Malacanang? (How far are you willing to fight for medical cannabis? Can you go beyond Facebook posts and comments? Beyond social media? Are you willing to bring the fight on the streets up to Malacañang),” it added.

PCCS is a group of advocates pushing for safe, legal and affordable access to medical marijuana.

In January 2019, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 6517 or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act to be able to provide “compassionate and right of access to medical cannabis and expanding research into its medicinal properties.”

Buhay Party-list Representative Lito Atienza said that the president’s decision constituted a correct political leadership in throwing out the bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana.

“The President’s case is consistent with our view that legalization [of medical marijuana] is bound to open a ‘Pandora’s box’ of drug abuse that can lead to an unwanted public health emergency, not to mention another law-enforcement problem,” Atienza said.

“Now that the president has spoken, we reckon that nobody will be foolish enough to introduce a similar measure in the next Congress,” he added as reported by The BusinessMirror.

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