SEVERAL lawmakers want to legalize medical marijuana because they themselves are eager to go into the business of cultivating the illegal drug and running dispensaries, an opposition House leader said yesterday.
“There are politicians who want to profit from legalized medical marijuana. This is clearly all about money – lots of money,” said House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.
A number of pro-legalization members of Congress have actually gone on ‘field trips’ to Canada and America to look into the operations of medical marijuana dispensaries there, according to Atienza.
But Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, principal author of a bill seeking to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, dismissed Atienza’s remark as “unparliamentarian.”
“Do not impute ill-motives on the authors of the bill whose only intention is to provide relief to terminally ill patients who are in pain,” said Albano.
“He sees ghosts where there are none,” said Albano as he challenged Atienza to name names, adding there is nothing wrong with the medical marijuana bill.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said President Rodrigo Duterte will sign into law any bill legalizing medical marijuana.
However, Atienza said no such bill would arrive at the Palace for the President to sign.
“The bill legalizing medical marijuana is already dead as far as this Congress is concerned,” Atienza said, adding that the House minority prevented further floor deliberation on the measure.
The current Congress has only 20 session days left, and most of these days are expected to be spent on passing the proposed 2019 national budget.
The legalization of medical marijuana will open the floodgates to abuse and addiction and create an unwanted public health emergency in the country, Atienza pointed out.
He said the susceptibility to abuse far outweighs any and all of the unproven benefits of allowing prescription marijuana.
The Philippine Medical Association, the professional organization of Filipino physicians, has rejected the legalization of medical marijuana, saying “it is contrary to the policy of the State to safeguard the well-being of its citizenry.”
At present, marijuana is tagged as a prohibited substance, just like methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, cocaine and heroin, under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.