Palace says Duterte might just be having second thoughts about medical marijuana

Published March 11, 2019, 5:05 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said that it was possible that President Duterte rejected the legalization of medical marijuana because of the lack of safeguards on how it will be used.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after the President on Friday changed his mind about supporting the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In his Monday press briefing, Panelo said he was not sure why the President made such statement, but assured that he will ask him if he was really opposing the move now.

“You know I’m not sure exactly his statement, whether it was a general change of mind or he’s only referring to specific… In fact, that’s one of the questions I have in mind to ask him later,” Panelo said.

However, Panelo surmised that Duterte may just be seeking better safeguards before agreeing to legalize medical cannabis.

“Pwede rin naman na kaya niya sinabi yun baka kailangan ng maraming safeguards. Kasi nga as you said baka gamitin niyo lang ‘yan later on (It is possible that he said that because there needs to be more safeguards. Because like what he said, they may use it later on),” he said.

“Kung walang safeguards talagang puputok ‘yan (If there are no safeguards, then it will really get out of hand),” he added.

Panelo also said that Duterte was possibly rejecting the move to legalize medical marijuana because he was not well-informed about how it’s benefits.

“Baka kailangan mapaalam kay Presidente yung importance ng (Maybe the President needs to be informed of the importance of the) legalization with respect to specific cases of sickness,” he said.

“Kumbaga, yun lang limited na limited ang use. Kasi noon pabor siya sa limited use, eh (In other words, just the very limited use of marijuana because he was in favor of its limited use before),” he added.

On Friday, Duterte said that he thumbed down the use of marijuana even if it was explained to him that it can be used for medicinal purposes.

“They’ll give you the excuse to harvest for … sabihin medicinal. Lahat na lang mag-medicinal na (and tell you that it is medicinal. Then everyone would do it). That would be an excuse,” he said.

“Hindi ako pumayag (I did not allow it). Not in my time, not in my time. Maybe some other time. Some other President, maybe,” he added.

According to the President, he has not even bothered to read studies supporting medical cannabis.

“I am ignorant of that kind of research. I must admit and I do not read it, and I do not intend to legalize it,” Duterte said.

“Ayaw ko. Gawin mo lang excuse ‘yan eh. Tatanim ka ng iyo, sabihin mo medicinal man kaya ito (I do not like it. You will just use it as an excuse to plant and have your own and say it is medicinal),” he added.

In December last year, Malacañang said that President Duterte was in favor of controlled, regulated use of marijuana for healing.

Read more: Duterte now against legalization of medical marijuana