February 22, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

MEDICAL MARIJUANA SOON? — Marijuana plants grown in the hinterlands of the Cordillera remains illegal while the Department of Science and Technology announced some research institutions are willing to research on medical marijuana. The supposed research proposals were submitted to the Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for clearance. — Ofelia Empian

Researches on the use of medical marijuana are yet to move forward pending the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 

Department of Science and Technology-Cordillera Director Nancy Bantog said research institutions in the Cordillera are willing to conduct research on the use of medical marijuana.

Bantog said the research proposal crafted by the DOST-CAR with the Kalinga State University and the Saint Louis University were already submitted to the Dangerous Drugs Board and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for clearance. She said the two regulatory offices are still reviewing the proposal.

“We got information from one of our cooperators, who is a member of the technical working group, and they are hoping that the law in the Philippines will be passed, because we need it for medical purposes,” Bantog said. 

Based on the workshops conducted while they were crafting the proposal, there were testimonies of the good effects of marijuana to patients.

She cited Thailand and other countries which decriminalized marijuana and legalized the research for the plant’s medicinal properties.

“We cannot do anything except to wait for the law to be passed,” she said.

Senate Bill 230 or the Medical Compassionate Use of Cannabis Act calls for the legalization of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and expanding research for its use, at the same time providing strict regulations to prevent abuses for casual use or profiteering.

The last discussion of the bill was on Dec. 13, 2022 during its second hybrid hearing under the Health and Demography Subcommittee of the Senate.

Cordillera officials have backed the bill but warned of the possibility of multinational companies taking control of the medical marijuana production.

Kalinga Gov. James Edubba said regulations must be properly in place making sure that the farmers and local residents will benefit from the production of medical marijuana. Otherwise, illegal cultivation would still persist if the multinational companies would take control of the production.  

Benguet Rep. Eric Yap earlier said the province will be one of the primary beneficiaries once the cultivation and distribution of marijuana are regulated. He said the regulation of the cultivation for medical marijuana will help curb the illegal cultivation and trade of the plant in the Cordillera and its environs. – Ofelia C. Empian