MANILA — Senate majority leader Vicente Sotto III said he is concerned about the proposal to legalize the medical use of marijuana or cannabis would mean more Filipinos planting it in their own backyards.
“Once na bigyan natin yan ng parang pintuan for medical marijuana to be legalized sigurado yan, the penchant of the Filipino, tiyak yan sa likod ng bahay may nakatanim na (Once we give them the chance for medical marijuana to be legalized, I’m sure, with the penchant of the Filipino, they would be planting it in their own backyards),” Sotto said in an interview.
“Ba’t gusto mo buong Pilipinas maging legal ito eh ikaw lang makikinabang dun. Ikaw lang ang may sakit. Pinapayagan ka naman gumamit e hindi ka huhulihin (Why do you want the medical marijuana legalized in the entire Philippines if you’re the only person who will benefit from it. You’re the only person who’s sick. You’re already allowed to use it without being reprimanded),” he added.
Sotto said he had always been against proposals to legalize the medical use of cannabis saying there were other ways to allow it even without passing a law.
“There are other ways that we can use to be able to allow those who need medical cannabis without legislating it now or without legalizing it,” Sotto said in an interview.
Sotto said that so far, there have not been any Senators who have filed a bill legalizing medical marijuana.
Last month, the House of Representatives Committee on Health approved a bill that allows the use of marijuana for patients. The bill was authored by Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano.
“Wala pang nag fa-file dito ng bill legalizing marijuana (Nobody in the Senate has filed a bill legalizing marijuana yet),” he added.
Sotto said he has already spoken to Albano and explained to him that a Senate version was not “possible.”
“Ang pananaw ko na dyan, noon pa man hanggang ngayon, pinagdebatehan na namin yan e. Inimbita na ko ni Rep. Albano sa AIM eh at may seminar-workshop dun (My view on this, before and until now, we have already deliberated about this. I was invited by Rep. Albano in AIM when there was a seminar-workshop there) and I feel very confident that after I explained to them the Philippine situation, I was able to convince majority of them that it’s not possible,” Sotto said.
The majority leader claimed that until now, there is “no empirical data” to prove that marijuana can cure anything. However, studies show that marijuana can help ease and treat chronic pain and other diseases.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), for its part, said that it will not object to the use of marijuana for medical purposes as long as safeguards under the law are followed.