Issue of August 11, 2019
     
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Propagation of hemp, not marijuana mulled
by Ofelia C. Empian

HEMP ADVOCATE -- Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon Raul Lambino suggested during the joint Regional Development Council-Regional Peace and Order Council to further study the cultivation of hemp as an alternative to marijuana in the Cordillera to combat the problem on the illegal plant. He said the hemp plant, recently ruled out by the U.S. as a controlled plant, is generally described as non-intoxicating variety of cannabis, which could be used for textile, paper, food, and medicine, among others, compared to marijuana, which is known to have high psychoactive effects on the user. -- Ofelia Empian

With the continuing problem on marijuana cultivation in the Cordillera, the hemp plant that is closely associated with marijuana is being proposed as an alternative for farmers in the region.

Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon Raul Lambino, speaking to local chief executives during the joint Regional Development Council- Regional Peace and Order Council,  said he is advocating the cultivation of hemp in the country instead of marijuana.

Hemp is described as non-intoxicating variety of cannabis while marijuana is a term used to classify varieties of cannabis that can induce psychotropic or euphoric effects on the user.
  
Lambino said the hemp plant also has its derivative products such as textiles (for its fiber), paper, food, cosmetics, and medicine such as the cannabis oil. 

He said there is a need to create guidelines in distinguishing the difference between hemp and marijuana in order for the government to allow the cultivation of hemp.

“We have written to the Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and we are asking them what is now the policy of the government with regards the distinction of the hemp and marijuana. Kasi ang nangyayari, kung sinabi mong cannabis akala nila marijuana na lahat which is completely different,” he said.

Lambino has asked the Department of Agriculture to also come up with a policy similar to the Agricultural Act of 2018 of the United States that was recently signed by President Donald Trump, removing hemp from controlled plants.

Lambino said this would be a way to help combat the pervading problem on illegal marijuana cultivation in the Cordillera.

“This is something we have to explore kasi problema sa Cordillera iyang issue ng marijuana, eh siyempre sasamantalahin ng mga drug personalities iyan pero ang mga farmers natin sila naman ang kawawa. For marijuana, let’s prohibit that but let’s give alternative to our farmers,” he said.

He said foreign investors have expressed interest on the put up of industrial hemp plant in the country.

He said he investors from U.S., Canada, and Europe approached him last year and asked if they could put it up at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority where Lambino is also the head. But he said the laws in the country prohibit any cultivation of cannabis plant.

For the past two months, the region has recorded P74 million worth of marijuana uprooted during eradication operations and seized in various forms by the police from drug pushers including minors posing as tourists. 

On Aug. 3, the police caught 35 pieces of marijuana bricks amounting to P4.2 million from two suspects, a 20-year old and a minor, who rode a bus from Bontoc, Mountain Province.

The suspects from Manila were caught carrying the bricks on their backpacks during a checkpoint operation at Acop, Tublay, Benguet.


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