Not the best time for marijuana bill » Manila Bulletin News



A move to allow the regulated use of marijuana as medicine became the center of discussion in the House of Representatives last week when House bill 6517 came up on the House floor after the bill’s approval by the House Committee on Health.

It ran into fierce opposition led by Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, senior deputy minority leader, who said there is today no research finding supporting the claim that marijuana is medicine. The proponents of the bill had claimed that marijuana or cannabis resin, extracts, and tinctures are useful in treating or alleviating debilitating ailments such as epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and damage to spinal cord tissue. But it appears these are mere testimonials, Congressman Atienza said. There are yet no solid and thorough research and medical studies and findings.

In the United States, medical marijuana is legal in 26 states, but not in the federal US government itself. The US Drug Enforcement Administration says it has a high potential for abuse and no legitimate therapeutic value. It has side effects which, it said, can interfere with attention judgment and balance.

In a position paper, the University of the Philippines-Manila opposed the legalization of medical cannabis or marijuana, saying it poses a “serious threat to public health.” The Comprehensive Drugs Act, RA 9165, now in effect in the country, says resins, extracts, and tinctures of cannabis are considered dangerous drugs in the Philippines.

The Philippines today is engaged in an all-out anti-drugs campaign to carry out the provisions of RA 9165. Addiction to shabu or methamphetamine has been the principal target of the campaign so far, but the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has also reported arrests and seizures involving other drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana.

We are in the midst of an all-out drug campaign and this might not be the best time to ease up on one of the prohibited drugs which is extracted from marijuana plants secretly cultivated in many parts of the country. It might be best to wait for further research on the medicinal values of marijuana in the US and other countries before we take the big step of allowing its use in our country.

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