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Legalization of Cannabis in the Philippines

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What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). It grows wild in many of the tropical and temperate areas of the world. It can be grown in almost any climate, and is increasingly cultivated by means of indoor hydroponic technology.

The main active ingredient in cannabis is called delta-9 tetrahydro-cannabinol, commonly known as THC. This is the part of the plant that gives the "high." There is a wide range of THC potency between cannabis products.

Where is Cannabis Legal?

Countries in the world where marijuana is legal for recreational use to some extent, and not just decriminalised, include Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, India, the USA, and the Netherlands.

The rules are different from place to place and there are lots of grey areas. For example, in Uruguay cannabis is totally legal and you can smoke it in the street, but in Spain it's only legal in private spaces.
In some other countries, cannabis possession is illegal, but either decriminalised – so those caught with small amounts have it confiscated and are given a fine, for example – or tolerated by authorities who turn a blind eye.

In the US, cannabis is illegal at the federal level, but certain states allow for its medical and personal use. American states which allow for recreational cannabis use are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. It is also legal in Washington, DC.
Canada will become the latest country to legalize marijuana for recreational use if the government's plans pass into law. The Canadian broadcaster CBC said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would unveil legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis in April. It should then be legal in Canada by July 1, 2018.

Why Do People Use Cannabis?

Most people who use cannabis do so to experience a sense of mild euphoria and relaxation, often referred to as a "high." Cannabis causes changes in the user's mood and also affects how they think and perceive the environment, e.g. everyday activities such as watching the television and listening to music can become altered and more intense. But there are also benefits in using Cannabis:

  1. Stress & Anxiety
  2. Asthma
  3. Heart Health
  4. Pain Relief
  5. Skin Protection
  6. Seizures
  7. Cancer

Real life stories about using of Cannabis:

Why should Philippines legalize Cannabis?

Cannabis use has been recorded for many years throughout human history. The fact that it is a naturally growing plant makes criminalization seem ludicrous; how can nature be illegal? Cannabis may have been here for longer than humans, so we really have no right to say it is wrong. When cannabis is illegal, society actually suffers. This is because during prohibition, it forces an illegal black market to transact the substance, in which the state has no control over. There is also the fact there are many substances, such as alcohol, tobacco and fast food, are perfectly legal and far more damaging to individuals and society when abused than cannabis.

The house bill no. 4477, an act regulating medical use of marijuana, is currently under process in the Philippine Congress. It is one of the hottest issues in the ph society today for its [marijuana] medical capability. Toward this end, the State shall legalize and regulate the medical use of cannabis which has been confirmed to have beneficial and therapeutic uses to treat chronic or deblitating disease or medical condition that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis.

There were over 30 countries in the world who has legal prohibition of marijuana including Czech Republic, Romania, France, Netherlands, Canada, Colombia and 29 states of USA. According to Yahoo News and Research, Colombia allows qualified patients and licensed doctors to practice medical marijuana as cure and it paved way for further scientific researches for further uses of marijuana. Over 77% of the patients experience better health stability after the use of marijuana as medicine. Moreover, it is according to the ancient origin: In 1997, a hemp rope dating back to 26,900 BC was found in Czechoslovakia, making it the oldest known object to be associated with cannabis. Since that time, hemp has played an important role in humanity’s development. For thousands of years marijuana was not only legal, but an important crop among cultures throughout history, and held commercial, medicinal, and spiritual value. The first recorded use of marijuana as a medicinal drug occurred in 2737 BC by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung. He documented the drug’s effectiveness in treating the pains of rheumatism and gout. Both hemp and psychoactive marijuana were widely used in ancient China. The ancient Chinese used virtually every part of the Cannabis plant: the root for medicine; the stem for textiles, rope and paper making; the leaves and flowers for intoxication and medicine; and the seeds for food and oil. Cannabis seeds were also one of the grains of early China and ancient tombs of China had sacrificial vessels filled with hemp for the afterlife. So as accordance to the said article/study, marijuana itself is a natural herbal medicine used by our ancestor and is evidently effective without the presence of technology.

Opposing the legalization is like stopping water from flowing where then, depriving the thirsty ill people their right to health. A report from the DepEd saying that most children and adolescent claim that it is easier for them to obtain drugs than of buying alcohol and cigarettes. Meaning, the more it is illegal, it will be difficult for the government to implement and distinguish criminal act from in medical purposes. Legal prohibition does not stop consumers from consuming drugs, it does not stop traffickers from producing and selling it. Illegal drug sellers sell to anyone. Therefore, with the help of the House bill no. 4477 sections 3-12 stating the terms, policies, regulations and penalties to be implemented. One is the Bona fide relationship between the qualified patients and licensed medical marijuana physician wherein they will be authorized by the Medical Cannabis Regulatory Authority and be cared by licensed caregiver at the Medical Cannabis Compassionate Center. Through this bill, a decent attention will be given to the penalties one may get for selling marijuana because of the bill that states only authorities are allowed to produce and sell marijuana. Legal Prohibitions should be addressed for medications and with terms and policies. Moreover, if marijuana is harmful to one’s health, then how much more the alternative medicines hospitals offer? According to the world health organization, studies found that 25% of people with massive intake of medicine dosage tend to die in organ failure because of chemicals.

It is advantageous to the government because it would save the government a lot of money. Investing to a facility where only authority are allowed to access and produce marijuana for medical use only. Keeping marijuana illegal is expensive because according to the commission on audit and national budget, Philippine government seem to chase after illegal users and sellers of drugs in according to the war on drugs campaign including the imprisonment, lawyers, jail facility expenses and many other.

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 cannabis.

According to First District of Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Seth Jalosjos, legalizing marijuana for medical use “will benefit thousands of patients suffering from serious and debilitating diseases.”

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