MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senate Deputy Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said advocates for the legalization of medicinal marijuana in the country were “hallucinating” and claimed that, “there is no empirical and scientific data that proves marijuana can cure anything or something.”
Advocates for marijuana legalization have renewed their call after the US state of Colorado began allowing the sale of recreational cannabis to anyone age 21 and older beginning New Year’s Day.
Data from the US nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws shows 16 states have decriminalized marijuana while 22 allow medicinal use of the hemp. Aside from Colorado, Washington state has also allowed recreational cannabis.
Recently, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the manufacture and use of marijuana.
But Sotto said: “Give me incontrovertible data that marijuana has medicinal or therapeutic purposes. Up to now, that is still subject to international debate.”
“We cannot trifle with something that we might regret later on,” he added. “Toying with the idea of legalizing marijuana use is like playing with fire.”
Sotto stressed that the Philippines is a signatory to the 1961 United Nation’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, which bans the production and supply of narcotic drugs and drugs with similar effects except for medical and research purposes.
“In its Preamble, the Convention recognizes addiction to narcotic drugs as a serious evil to an individual and its social and economic danger to mankind was recognized,” Sotto said.
Thus, he said, any law allowing the use of marijuana for recreational purposes or any law that allows its use for alleged medicinal purposes without proper scientific data to support it would violate the treaty.
Any proposal to legalize medicinal marijuana, he stressed, “should be backed up by relevant medical and scientific data and represented before the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.”
He also challenged legalization advocates to make their case before the UN body.
Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, classifies marijuana as an illegal drug, criminalizing its sale, trade or use and only
Congress can amend the law.
“The Department of Health, the Dangerous Drugs Board, the Philippine Medical Association, or any other agency for that matter may not encroach on this prerogative of Congress,” he stressed.(MNS)