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MANILA, Philippines – Is it time to legalize the medical use of marijuana in the Philippines?

Debaters from the Ateneo de Manila University Law School and the University of Sto Tomas
(UST) Law School discussed the issue at "The Law and Policy Debate: An Inter-university
Dialogue" held at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 9.

It has been more than a year since Isabela 1st District Representative Rodolfo Albano III filed
House Bill 4477 or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Bill, and it already has 69 co-
authors to date.

The two debate teams argued on the necessity to passs HB 4477, with Ateneo on the
affirmative side, and UST on the negative side. (READ: PH doctors say no to medical marijuana

While no team was declared a winner, Ateneo's second affirmative speaker Pearl Simbulan was
chosen as both Best Speaker and Best Interpellator.
Simbulan argued that legalizing medical marijuana will provide more options to patients who
need it. It will also allow research and development on the "better uses" of marijuana to

The adjudicators were former Philippine Permanent Representative to the World Trade
Organization Manuel Teehankee, Likhaan director and co-founder Junice Melgar, and Malou
Tiquia, host of CNN Philippines' current affairs program Agenda.

Debate arguments

Below are the arguments of each speaker:


LEGALIZE MEDICAL MARIJUANA. Patrick Vincent Cocabo (L), Pearl Simbulan (C) and John
Michael Villanueva (R) from Ateneo Law School argue that legalizing medical marijuana is a
necessity in the Philippines. Photo by Kristine Pauline Ongtengco

1st affirmative speaker: John Michael Villanueva

There is a necessity to pass this bill in order to comply with the constitutional mandates and
international obligations of promoting the right to health.

There is a need to distinguish between the ill and the criminals, which can only be done by this

2nd affirmative speaker: Pearl Simbulan

Legalizing medical marijuana is the only and the best comprehensive approach to health. What
we think in legalizing medical marijuana is that we provide the optimal care: [providing] a range
of options that a physician who is in the best position to make these decisions can do for the

Because we illegalized blanketly marijuana, research on these kinds of things stopped, and it
has become harder for us to discover even better uses of marijuana.

3rd affirmative speaker: Patrick Vincent Cocabo

"The question should not be whether marijuana is good or bad, but rather, how can we control
it? What is the best strategy to save lives?"

Government regulation is important.

The bill provides an important mechanism of checks and balances of citizen accountability.


NO TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA. Marie Sybil Tropicales (L), John Paul Fabella (C) and Jackielyn
Bana (R) from UST Law School argue against legalizing medical marijuana in the Philippines.
Photo by Kristine Pauline Ongtengco

1st negative speaker: Marie Sybil Tropicales

Medical marijuana should not be legalized because at present, its detriments outweigh its
benefits. Medical marijuana is not necessary for legislation because essentially, it is not a cure
in itself.

2nd negative speaker: John Paul Fabella

"The contentious documented benefits of medical marijuana cannot outweigh its adverse
effects to the government and society."

On a socio-political level: Legalization sends a wrong message to public, especially to the youth,
that marijuana is medically benevolent and not a harmful drug. The state cannot afford to risk
our society to the dangers of increased marijuana use by implying a stance that it is not

Legalizing medical marijuana is not advantageous to the government.

Documented benefits are highly contentious at the moment and inconclusive.

It undermines law enforcement by forcing officers to distinguish medical users and recreational

3rd negative speaker: Jackielyn Bana

Is government ready for this? There are too much gray areas in the policy implementation at
present, that no matter how noble the objective of the law is, that no matter how flawless its
features are, it all go to waste because of the corrupt implementation of the laws.

Example: Regulating tobacco, alocohol, sleeping pills, and prescription drugs

This country has a problem with strict and faithful implementation of government policies and

What guarantee do we have that a seriously addictive drug could be regulated when simple
regulations on tobacco and alcohol products prove to be impossible to impose?

Once marijuana is legalized, there is no possibility of regulating it.

Adjudicators comment

The adjudicators welcomed the law students' interest in discussing the advantages and
disadvantages of legalizing medical marijuana in the Philippines. (READ: Solon: Let's start
talking about medical marijuana)

"I'm happy that the youth are taking positions especially on an issue which is very, very real in
your sector," Tiquia said after all interpellations were done. She lauded the bill for being "very
rigid," and disagreed with UST's Fabella that regulating marijuana means legitimizing it.

Melgar noted how "selective" the bill is on legalizing marijuana only for medical use. (READ:
When medicines fail, marijuana is moms' last hope)

"All the public knows about marijuana is the stereotype, that it's all for getting high, and
nobody shines a light on the few instances where it is the most compassionate for children who
have epilepsy, for patients who have cancer," Melgar added.

HB 4477 is still pending with the House committee on health. Albano said it is possible to enact
the bill during the 16th Congress, but admitted the probability is "iffy" and will depend "on how
fast they will settle the issue on the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law)."

Albano said Congress is "focused" on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which reached the House
plenary on June 1.
Tuesday's debate was organized by the Teehankee Center for the Rule of Law and Ateneo's St
Thomas More Debate and Advocacy Society, in partnership with the Office of Representative
Albano and the Office of Ang Nars party-list Representative Leah Paquiz. –

Law students debate on legalizing medical marijuana in PH. Jee Y. Geronimo.2015 Retrieved
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine medical groups on Thursday, October 16, expressed their
opposition to a House bill seeking to legalize and regulate the medical use of marijuana in the

"We oppose [House Bill] 4477. We cannot risk endangering the health and safety of the
Filipino,” read the statement released by the following organizations:

Philippine Medical Association

Philippine College of Physicians

Child Neurology Society of the Philippines

Group for Addiction Psychiatry of the Philippines

Pain Society of the Philippines

Philippine League Against Epilepsy, Inc.

Philippine Neurological Association

Philippine Psychiatric Association

Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology (PSCOT)

UP-PGH National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC)

Half of these medical groups earlier proposed the creation of a task force that will review
existing policies and systems, and explore other options regarding medical marijuana. (READ:
PH doctors want task force on medical marijuana)

House Bill 4477, or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Bill, was filed in May by Isabela
1st District Representative Rodolfo Albano III after months of dialogue with advocates and
stakeholders. (READ: When medicines fail, marijuana is moms' last hope)

According to the bill, marijuana "has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to
treat chronic or deblitating disease or medical condition.”

But the medical groups questioned the bill, which they said does not address the compassionate
use of medical marijuana.

They said that while they understand the concerns of patients who may "potentially benefit"
from medical marijuana, it is their "moral and ethical responsibility” to ensure the patients'

"HB 4477 is contrary to the policy of the state to safeguard the well-being of its citizenry
particularly the youth from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs,” the statement read. –

Reference: PH doctors say no to medical marijuana bill. Jee Y. Geronimo. 2014. Retrieved from:

Ten Reasons Why Marijuana Should Not Be Legalized!

August 8th, 2014

Disregarding the science, the New York Times recently came out in support of marijuana
legalization. Here are 10 reasons to oppose legalization:

1. Marijuana legalization will usher in America’s new version of “Big Tobacco.”

Already, private holding groups and financiers have raised millions of start-up dollars to
promote businesses that will sell marijuana and marijuana-related merchandise.

Marijuana food and candy, with names such as “Ring Pots” and “Pot Tarts,” are being marketed
to children and are already responsible for a growing number of marijuana-related ER visits. [i]
Marijuana vending machines, containing products such as marijuana brownies and candies, are
popping up across the country. [ii]

The former head of Strategy for Microsoft has said that he wants to “mint more millionaires
than Microsoft” with marijuana and that he wants to create the “Starbucks of marijuana.” [iii]

2. Marijuana use will increase under legalization

Because they are accessible and available, our legal drugs are used far more than our illegal
ones. According to recent surveys, alcohol is used by 52% of Americans and tobacco is used by
27% of Americans. Marijuana is used by 8% of Americans. [iv]

When RAND researchers analyzed California’s 2010 effort to legalize marijuana, they concluded
that the price of the drug could plummet and therefore, marijuana consumption could increase.

3. Marijuana is especially harmful to kids and adolescents.

Marijuana contributes to psychosis and schizophrenia. [vi]

1 in 6 kids who try marijuana will become addicted to it. [vii]

Heavy marijuana use in adolescence leads to an average IQ loss of 8 points later in life. [viii]

According to data from the 2012 National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse,
alcohol and cigarettes were the most readily accessible substances for youth 12 to 17, with
50% and 44% reporting that they could obtain them within a day, respectively. Youth were
least likely to report that they could get marijuana within a day; 45% reported that they would
be unable to get marijuana at all. [ix]

4. Today’s marijuana is NOT your Woodstock weed.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, THC levels of smoked marijuana averaged around 1%, increasing to just
under 4% in 1983, and almost tripling in the subsequent 30 years to around 11% in 2011.
Some marijuana concentrates today contain 95% THC. [x]

5. Marijuana legalization will increase public costs.

For every $1 we collect in alcohol and tobacco tax revenues, we lose $10 in social costs. [xi]

Current alcohol-related arrest rates are over three times higher than marijuana arrest rates.[xiii]

6. People are not in prison for small time marijuana use.

Statistics on state-level prisoners reveal that 0.3% of all state inmates were behind bars for
marijuana possession only (with many of them pleading down from more serious crimes). [xiv]

99.8% of federal prisoners sentenced for drug offenses were incarcerated for drug trafficking.

The risk of arrest for each joint smoked is 1 in 12,000. [xvi]

7. Drug cartels and the black market will continue to thrive under legalization.
A recent RAND report showed that Mexican drug trafficking groups earn only 15-25% of their
revenues from marijuana. For them, the big money is in human trafficking, kidnapping,
extortion, piracy, and other illicit drugs. [xvii]

Under legalization, a black market will still sell tax-free marijuana to adults and youth.

8. Neither Portugal nor Holland provide any successful example of legalization.

Independent research reveals that in the Netherlands, where marijuana was commercialized
and sold openly at “coffee shops,” marijuana use among young adults increased almost 300%.

There are signs that tolerance for marijuana in the Netherlands is receding. They have recently
closed hundreds of coffee shops.

Today Dutch citizens have a higher likelihood of being admitted to marijuana treatment than
citizens of nearly all other countries in Europe. [xix]

In Portugal, drug use levels are mixed, and despite reports to the contrary, they have not
legalized drugs. In 2001, Portugal started to refer drug users to three-person “panels of social
workers” that recommend treatment or another course of action. As the European Monitoring
Center’s findings concluded: “the country does not show specific developments in its drug
situation that would clearly distinguish it from other European countries that have a different
policy.” [xx]

9. Marijuana has medicinal properties, but we shouldn’t smoke the plant in order to derive
those benefits, just like we do not smoke opium to get the benefits of morphine.

In states with medical marijuana laws, the average medical marijuana user is a male in his 30′s
with no terminal illness and a history of drug abuse. [xxi]

Less than 3% of users have cancer or AIDS. [xxii]

Residents of states with medical marijuana laws have abuse and dependence rates almost twice
as high as states with no such laws. [xxiii]

Research should be conducted to produce pharmacy-attainable, non-smoked medications based

on marijuana.

10. Experience from Colorado is not promising.

Two independent reports released in August 2013 document how Colorado’s supposedly
regulated system is not well regulated at all. [xxiv]

Currently, the marijuana use rate among Colorado teens is 50% above the national average.
Marijuana has been widely available in stores since 2009 (to Coloradans 18+ with a medical
card). [xxv]

Since 2009, drug-related referrals for high school students testing positive for marijuana has
increased. [xxvi]

Medical marijuana is easily diverted to youth.[xxvii]

While the total number of car crashes declined from 2007 to 2011, the number of fatal car
crashes with drivers testing positive for marijuana rose sharply.[xxviii]


[i] Alface, I. (2013, May 27). Children Poisoned by Candy-looking Marijuana Products. Nature
World News. Retrieved from; Jaslow, R. (2013,
28 May). Laxer marijuana laws linked to increase in kids’ accidental poisonings CBS News.
Retrieved from

[ii] Gruley, B. (2013, May 9). Medbox: Dawn of the Marijuana Vending Machine. Bloomberg
Businessweek. Retrieved from

[iii] Ex-Microsoft exec plans ‘Starbucks’ of marijuana. (2013, May 31). United Press
International. Retrieved from

[iv] NSDUH, Summary of National Findings, 2012. Retrieved from

[v] Kilmer, B., Caulkins, J.P., Pacula, R.L., MacCoun, R.J., & Reuter, P.H. Altered State?
Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and
Public Budgets. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010.

[vi] Andréasson S, et al. (1987). Cannabis and Schizophrenia: A longitudinal study of Swedish
conscripts. Lancet, 2(8574).

[vii] Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., & Kessler, R.C. (1994). Comparative epidemiology of
dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances, and inhalants: Basic findings from the
National Comorbidity Survey. Experiential and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 2.

[viii] Meier, M.H. (2012). Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from
childhood to midlife.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[ix] Adapted by CESAR from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at
Columbia University (CASA), National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII:
Teens, 2012. Retrieved from

[x] Mehmedic, Z., et al. (2010). Potency Trends of D9-THC and Other Cannabinoids in
Confiscated Cannabis Preparations from 1993 to 2008. The Journal of Forensic Sciences, 55(5).

[xi] Updating estimates of the economic costs of alcohol abuse in the
 United States: Estimates,
update methods, and data. Report prepared
for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and
Alcoholism. Retrieved from; Urban Institute
and Brookings Institution (2012, October 15). State and local alcoholic beverage tax revenue,
selected years 1977-2010. Tax Policy Center. Retrieved from
displayafact.cfm?Docid=399; Saul, S. (2008, August 30). Government
gets hooked on tobacco
tax billions. The New York Times. Retrieved
from html?em&_r=0; for Federal estimates, see
Urban Institute and Brookings Institution (2012, October 15). State and local tobacco tax
revenue, selected years 1977-2010. Tax Policy Center. Retrieved from www.; Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
(n.d.). Toll of tobacco in the United States of America. Retrieved from

[xii] Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2004). Data collection: Survey of inmates in state correctional
facilities (SISCF). Retrieved from http://

[xiii] Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2011). Persons arrested. Retrieved from

[xiv] Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2004). Data collection: Survey of inmates in state correctional
facilities (SISCF). Retrieved from http://

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi] Kilmer, B., et al. “Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could
Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets”. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation,

[xvii] Kilmer, B, Caulkins, J.P, Bond, B.M. & Reuter, P.H. “Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues
and Violence in Mexico: Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?” Santa Monica, CA:
RAND Corporation, 2010.

[xviii] MacCoun, R. & Reuter, P. (2001). Evaluating Alternate Cannabis Regimes. The British
Journal of Psychiatry, 178.

[xix] MacCoun, R. (2010). What can we learn from the Dutch Cannabis Coffeeshop experience?
RAND Drug Policy Research Center. Retrieved from

[xx] European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug and Addiction. (2011). Drug Policy

Profiles-Portugal. Retrieved from‐

[xxi] O’Connell, T.J. & Bou-Matar, C.B. (2007). Long term marijuana users seeking medical
cannabis in California (2001–2007): demographics, social characteristics, patterns of cannabis
and other drug use of 4117 applicants. Harm Reduction Journal, 4(16).

[xxii] Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2011)

[xxiii] Cerda, M., et al. (2012). Medical marijuana laws in 50 states: Investigating the
relationship between state legalization of medical marijuana and marijuana use, abuse and
dependence. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 120(1-3).
[xxiv] Colorado Office of the State Auditor. (2013). & City of Denver Office of the Auditor.

[xxv] NSDUH, Summary of National Findings, 2012. Retrieved from

[xxvi] Rocky Mountain HIDTA. (2013). Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.
Retrieved from

[xxvii] Salomonsen-Sautel, S., et al. (2012). Medical marijuana use among adolescents in
substance abuse treatment.Journal of American Academic Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,
51(7).[xxviii] Rocky Mountain HIDTA. (2013). Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The
Impact. Retrieved from

*this information was taken from, an initiative of Smart Approaches to

Marijuana (Project SAM), a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned
citizens, co-founded by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy. The initiative is supported by a
number of prevention, treatment, and medical groups.

Reference: Ten Reasons Why Marijuana Should Not Be Legalized!.2014. Retrieved from:
How did we end up in a world where Big Gulps are being banned in New York while the
welcome mat for potheads is being rolled out in Colorado? How is it that cigarette smokers are
pariahs, while people smoking weed are being cheered? This is despite the fact that potheads
are almost universally recognized as unmotivated, low class, degenerate – and, yes, smelly
failures. Even the ones that get somewhere in life, like Barack Obama, usually turn out to be

Moreover, we all recognize that smoking is a dirty habit that makes you die younger while
drinking is a potentially dangerous habit that leads to hundreds of thousands of deaths per
year, but we want to condone pot use on top of that? That's like saying you've got a bad back
and a bad shoulder; so why not break your knee cap to top it all off. How many lives are we
willing to flush down the drain because a significant number of Americans tried pot a handful of
times in their lives, got away with it and now feel guilty about it? One hundred for every person
in prison? 1000? 10,000? There's a reason pot was made illegal in the first place and quite
frankly, the only reason alcohol and cigarettes are legal is because they're so deeply ingrained
in our society that we can't get rid of them.

There is certainly a financial and human cost to keeping marijuana illegal and we can see it in
our prisons. But, there would be an even larger cost to making it legal.

1) It's extremely addictive for some people: If you don't want to take my word for it, listen to
Dr. Drew Pinsky who has been working with addicts for decades.

It would be malpractice to say that cannabis isn't addictive. Anybody who's experienced it,
actually been addicted to it, knows how profound that addiction is.... The difficult thing about
marijuana addiction is some people, even though they're addicted can do fine with it for many
many years before they start to have difficultly, but eventually the high starts wearing off,
people start smoking a lot more to try to get that high back and that's when they descend into
difficulties. ...I've been treating cannabis addiction for 20 years. When people are addicted to
cannabis, cocaine and alcohol the drug they have the most difficult time giving up is the
cannabis. It is extremely addictive...for some people. I think that's where people get confused.
It's not very addictive for many people. It's a small subset of people with a genetic potential for
addiction. But for them it is really tough. You only need talk to them, they'll tell you how tough
it is.

Additionally, that "small subset" Dr. Drew is talking about isn't so small in a big country like
America. "Of the 7.3 million persons aged 12 or older classified with illicit drug dependence or
abuse in 2012, 4.3 million persons had marijuana dependence or abuse." It doesn't take a
rocket scientist to figure out that the more legal and available marijuana becomes, the higher
those numbers are going to go.

2) This experiment hasn't worked out so well for Amsterdam: Humans being what they are, just
about any stupid idea we can come up with has already been tried somewhere else. Amsterdam
is the most famous place across the world that has effectively legalized pot. It has even turned
into a tourist destination for potheads. Legalizing weed has been a huge success there, right?
Actually, not so much...

Its citizens are now alarmed that their children are increasingly being exposed to it.

Amsterdam today became the first city in the Netherlands to ban students from smoking
marijuana at school.

The city's mayor Eberhard van der Laan introduced the law after school chiefs complained
about pupils turning up to classes high after rolling up outside the grounds.

Marijuana is widely available in Holland as, although it is technically illegal, police can't
prosecute people for possession of small amounts.

But it has also had the unwanted side effect that Dutch children are frequently exposed to the
drug in public areas.

Additionally, contrary to the claims that legalizing it will reduce crime, in Amsterdam it’s been
found that crime is now centering around the coffeehouses where marijuana is sold.

…Certainly the outlook for coffee shops is bleak. Among the few policies that the three parties
in the new coalition government agree on is the need to reduce their numbers. The governing
agreement released last week laid out plans that will force them to become members-only clubs
and shut down those shops located near schools.

The coalition is also advancing the idea of prohibiting the sale of cannabis to non-Dutch
residents, which amounts to a death knell for many coffee shops.

...The circumstances that led to the tolerance policies have changed in the past decade, as
large-scale crime around coffee shops and the legal sex trade became more visible. In
particular, the absence of legal means for coffee shops to obtain cannabis has highlighted their
association with organized crime.

But the open-minded instincts that helped foster the policies are also being questioned. And it is
not just the far-right opposing coffee shops. The traditional parties of power on the center-
right, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal VVD, have also moved against the policies they
once promoted.
That doesn't exactly sound like a success story, does it?

3) Marijuana is terrible for your mental health: Marijuana may even be WORSE than cigarettes.
At least cigarettes don't peel points off of your IQ.

A recent Northwestern University study found that marijuana users have abnormal brain
structure and poor memory and that chronic marijuana abuse may lead to brain changes
resembling schizophrenia. The study also reported that the younger the person starts using
marijuana, the worse the effects become.

In its own report arguing against marijuana legalization, the American Medical Association said:
"Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive
performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic
thought disorders."

So, there's a good reason most habitual marijuana users come off as stupid. The drug is making
them stupider, even when they're not high. You really want your kids on that?

4) Marijuana is terrible for your physical health: How bad is marijuana for you? It's even more
toxic than cigarette smoke. Regular users are hit with devastating lung problems as much as 20
years earlier than smokers. Even small amounts of marijuana can cause temporary sterility and
it has a terrible impact on the babies of women who smoke including "birth defects, mental
abnormalities and increased risk of leukemia in children." If your standard is, "Well, it's better
for you than Meth or Crack," that's true, but you're deluding yourself if you think pot is anything
other than absolutely horrible for your health.

5) The drug decimates many people's lives: Movies portray potheads as harmless, fun-loving
people who spend their time giggling and munching Cheetos, but they don't show these people
when they're flunking out of school, losing their jobs, frustrated because they can't concentrate
or losing the love of their lives because they just don't want to be with a pot smoking loser
anymore. Even in the limited number of studies that are out there, the numbers are stark.

A study of 129 college students found that, among those who smoked the drug at least twenty-
seven of the thirty days before being surveyed, critical skills related to attention, memory and
learning were seriously diminished. A study of postal workers found that employees who tested
positive for marijuana had 55% more accidents, 85% more injuries and a 75% increase in
being absent from work. In Australia, a study found that cannabis intoxication was responsible
for 4.3% of driver fatalities.

...Students who use marijuana have lower grades and are less likely to get into college than
nonsmokers. They simply do not have the same abilities to remember and organize information
compared to those who do not use these substances.
It's bad enough that we already lose so many Americans to cigarettes, alcoholism, and drunken
driving. Do we really want to endorse the loss of millions more potentially productive Americans
via Marijuana? Do we move on from there to Crack, Heroin or Meth? Some people would say,
“If they want to do it, great, then it's no business of ours.” But, you can also bet that those
same people will be complaining about all the junkies and welfare cases that will be created by
the policy they endorsed.

So, ask yourself a few key questions. Is legalizing Marijuana going to make this a better country
or a worse one? Would you want to live in a neighborhood filled with people who regularly
smoke marijuana? Would you want your kids regularly smoking pot? Now is the time to think
about it because although it's easy to thoughtlessly legalize a drug like marijuana, when things
go predictably wrong down the road, it will be a lot harder to put the genie back in the bottle
than people seem to think.

Reference: 5 Reasons Marijuana Should Remain Illegal. John Hawkins. 2014. Retrieved from:

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Should medical marijuana be legalized in the Philippines?

This was the question that several law students from two universities in the country tried to
answer on Tuesday (June 9) during a Law and Policy Debate at the House of Representatives.
Ambassador Manuel Teehankee, a medical and law expert, recognized the need for public
discussions on the legalization of marijuana.

He noted that debating on a topic is a healthy method of testing ideas and proposal, and "a
good way by which the legislative process can be vetted with various ideas being exchanged."

Dr. Junice L.D. Melgar, executive director of the Likhaan Center for Women's Health, agreed
with Teehankee and explained that marijuana has several medical uses.

According to Melgar, marijuana can stop epileptic seizures and can help treat neuropathic
diseases such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. It can also treat loss of appetite after
chemotherapy or following treatment for HIV or AIDS.

She also mentioned that marijuana has side effects like the alteration of moods. In fact, among
psychotropic drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, marijuana is the most
potent, Melgar added.

The doctor said that there are no reports of any deaths caused by toxicity or the intake of

Melgar also stressed the importance of being informed about marijuana and its uses.

"Even for small part, if we don’t give them space for public discussion — for people to be
enlightened about it — we will forever be ignorant."

Opposed by PDEA

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), on the other hand, has continued to oppose
the legalization of marijuana.

Director General Arturo Cacdac, PDEA chief, said that there is a need to first resolve the issue of
how the government would be able to regulate marijuana plantations to ensure that it would
not be abused.
Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, meanwhile,
acknowledged Cacdac's concern — saying that there really is a need to ensure that the country
is capable of regulating marijuana production and distribution.

"Kailangan talaga mapakita from our med prac margining opinion ng mga magulang, pero para
sa akin, kaya ba natin iimplmeneta ang batas na ito na di maaabuso," Poe said.

[Translation: "Medical practitioners should show us the margining opinions of parents on the
matter, but for me, the question is: 'Can we really implement this law without any abuse?'"]

Pending bill

Amid debates on the matter, there is actually pending bill at the lower chamber, which aims to
legalize the compassionate use of marijuana.

But since it was filed in May 2014, no committee hearing has been held on the bill at the lower

Bill co-author Rep. Leah Paquiz appealed to her colleagues to take a look at the draft bill.

"We are at this stage, we have Filipinos who need care, we should give them compassionate
care — this medical cannabis. There are a lot of medicines, but they are expensive," Paquiz

According to Paquiz, around 70 lawmakers already signed the bill as co-authors. But as the 16th
Congress nears its end, the fate of the bill has turned grim.

Reference: Should medical marijuana be legalized in PH?. Joyce Ilas.CNN Philippines. 2015.
Retrieved from: