April 23, 2024

The recent order of Mayor Gabino Ganggangan of Sadanga, Mountain Province barring tourists from traversing a portion of a national road that leads to Tinglayan, Kalinga to curtail the marijuana trade in both provinces is proof that the drug trade continues to thrive despite the administration’s pronouncements in 2016 that in a few months, the country will be drug-free.
Such campaign promise is implausible as the drug trade keeps thriving and it appears that the strategies employed by authorities to stop the trade have not been effective in the long-term for hectares of land continue to be cultivated and processing is even done at or near the areas where these weeds grow.
Marijuana is grown not only in the Cordillera mountain ranges but also in mountainous areas such as La Union, Bukidnon, Cebu, Davao, and Agusan. Authorities conduct series of eradication, even hiking for days to reach the plantation sites. However, of the countless eradications conducted, only a few or none of the cultivators have been charged in court. Hence, the cycle continues.
The government was not amiss in recognizing that eradicating the practice of marijuana growing requires a whole of society approach, which is why in communities where cultivation is rampant, alternative livelihood projects were given and farm-to-market roads and irrigation were built to convince those who cultivate that money earned from hardwork is better than money obtained by dubious means.
Still, the problem persists. We re-cognize the effort put into intelligence gathering and the amount of logistics spent just to get to the source of these illegal plants, but with the government seemingly not winning its war on illegal drugs, perhaps it is time for authorities assigned in known marijuana cultivation areas to re-strategize and review measures that will not only curb or minimize cultivation, but will lead to the filing of cases against people responsible in the proliferation of marijuana.
While the series of marijuana eradication is undeniably an accomplishment on the part of government forces, this is an indication that the government’s war on drugs remains unsuccessful in these mountain dwellings since it went full swing in 2016.
Let us expand the information and education campaign about the negative effects of marijuana use to our bodies and to society.
The revival of proposals to make marijuana cultivation legal perhaps emboldened some to interpret that it is justified to plant for many will benefit from its supposed medicinal properties. Those in charge of the information campaign should highlight that while some laws allow the limited use of medical marijuana, our laws continue to bar its cultivation, distribution, and use. Authorities should also strengthen the functions of the barangay anti-drug abuse councils, while ensuring their security at the same time.
Drug eradication is a risky undertaking. It is a fact that in areas where there is cultivation, members of the community may be aware of who may be behind the illegal activity but only a few will come forward and report to authorities because of the risk to their lives, and this would be next to impossible if the communities are engaged in marijuana trade themselves.
Government forces, the church, and the academe should meet anew and work towards a direction where illegal cultivation will not only be curbed, but members of the community will be educated as well that getting involved in an illegal activity affects not just an individual, but also the family, the community, and society in general.
This way, we will still be able to win the war against illegal drugs, sans the bloody killings that have been identified with the government’s flagship program on drug eradication.