Proof of therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana could convince Duterte to change his mind

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte might reconsider his position against medical marijuana if there will be conclusive scientific evidence about its therapeutic effect, Malacañang hinted Tuesday.

“Kung definitive na ang finding siguro [If there will be definitive finding maybe], he might change his mind,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

President Rodrigo Duterte (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Duterte (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

But for now, Panelo said the President remains opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana to prevent the spread drug addiction in the country.

Duterte also found no definitive clinical finding yet to confirm the efficacy of marijuana for medical use, according to Panelo.

“I asked him outright, sabi ko Mr. President, yung sa legalization of marijuana. Absolute? Yes. He does not like kasi ang feeling niya you will be using that as an excuse. Baka lumaki nang lumaki lang. Sabi niya ‘Not during my time.’ Sa ibang panahon siguro [because he feels that you will be using that as an excuse. It might worsen the problem. He said, ‘Not during my time.’ Maybe some other time],” he said.

He said the President would rather let the medical community decide first on whether use of marijuana would be effective for medical use.

“Dinagdagan niya dapat ‘yung medical muna ang mag-decide kung talagang totoong nakakagamot ‘yan kasi sa ngayon sabi niya hindi naman definitive ang finding.

May nagsasabi na pwede, may nagsasabi ng hindi so he does not want to risk the spread of addiction in this country [He added that the medical should decide if it really cures because at present, he said, there is no definitive finding. Some people say it can, others say it doesn’t so he does not want to risk the spread of addiction in this country],” he said.

Last Friday, the President declared he would not allow medical marijuana to be legalized in the country due to concerns that drug syndicates might use it to sell prohibited drugs. He said if it is made legal, the marijuana could be used as an excuse to cultivate the plant and use it other than for medical purposes.

Duterte previously expressed openness to the proposed use of marijuana for medical purposes. He once joked about using marijuana to stay awake during hectic meetings.