No chance of medical marijuana bill revival after Duterte’s rejection—Atienza

Published March 11, 2019, 3:49 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Ellson Quismorio

BUHAY Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza believes that President Duterte’s public rejection of legalized medical marijuana has effectively doomed any chance of the measure’s revival in the next Congress.

Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza  (Russell Palma / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza

“The President has demonstrated correct political leadership in throwing out the bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana,” said Atienza, who is a Senior Deputy Minority Leader.

“Now that the President has spoken, we reckon that nobody will be foolish enough to introduce a similar measure in the next Congress,” the former three-term mayor of Manila said.

The upcoming 18th Congress will run alongside the final three years of Duterte’s tenure in the Palace.

On Friday, Duterte said he would not legalize medical cannabis or marijuana in the country as it can be misused for purposes other than to treat ailments.

The President also said that drug traffickers can exploit medical marijuana to further expand their illegal trade.

“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.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) previously tagged at least 96 “narco-politicians” across the country.

Atienza earlier warned that a number of unnamed politicians are raring to profit from medical marijuana by running dispensaries.

“All the purported therapeutic values of marijuana are merely anecdotal. They have not been scientifically proven,” he claimed.

“What has been proven by science is that marijuana is a dangerous substance, mainly because it is highly addictive and can cause powerful hallucinations, including loss of sense of personal identity, among other short- and long-term side-effects,” argued Atienza.

The Philippine Medical Association, the professional organization of Filipino physicians, is also opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, saying “it is contrary to the policy of the State to safeguard the well-being of its citizenry.”

It was last January when the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No.6517, or the proposed Act providing compassionate and right of access to medical cannabis, expanding research into its medicinal properties and for other purposes.

The measure was principally authored by Isabela 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll.

Marijuana, a downer, is considered a banned substance under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.