Alvarez wants cannabis out of dangerous drugs list: It’s part of a solution
Former House of Representatives speaker and now Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez seeks to delist cannabis from the country’s dangerous drugs, noting that the substance should not be considered a problem but part of the solution.
Alvarez, during the hearing of his House Bill (HB) No. 6783 before the House Committee on dangerous drugs on Tuesday, said that legalizing the production of cannabis — without initially allowing recreational use — will spur development as taxes can be channeled to infrastructure projects and public services.
“We can decriminalize cannabis and its derivatives, and we can collect billions worth of taxes from its production and sale. We can use added revenues to build more roads and bridges, more classrooms and hospitals, and more public service in pursuit of the common good,” the former speaker said in his sponsorship speech.
“We can also use it to help our country pay for our debt brought on by the economic crisis during the pandemic. Cannabis should not be viewed as a problem; it should be part of the solution,” he added.
Currently, Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, lists cannabis or marijuana and all its derivatives as a banned substance under the drugs included in Schedule I.
However, Alvarez’ HB No. 6783 seeks to remove cannabis, cannabis resins from extracts, and tinctures of cannabis from the lists and schedules under R.A. 9165.
Alvarez said having marijuana on the list is absurd as it is supposedly less dangerous compared to other allowed or controlled substances like alcohol and cigarettes.
“If the government allows harmful products like alcoholic beverages, cancer-causing cigarettes, and diabetes-bringing sugary drinks, why can’t we decriminalize the production and sale of a substance that is less harmful, has many benefits, and can be a source of government’s saving revenues,” he said.
“The continuous classification of cannabis and its derivatives as dangerous and criminal does not make sense at all. It’s time for us to correct this absurdity, let us give cannabis a second chance, and make this happen by giving our all-out support for House Bill No. 6783,” he added.
Alvarez’ pitch to lawmakers and stakeholders included an observation that people using marijuana are less likely to be aggressive than those drinking alcohol, adding that the former would only resort to calm conversations and would just have an enhanced appetite.
“Unlike the consumption of liquor, it (cannabis) does not make people reckless and aggressive. I remember a story told by a colleague, he said ‘put a bunch of strangers in two rooms, the first one, give them alcohol and leave them overnight. You can bet that there’s going to be a brawl and people will get hurt,” he said.
“Let’s go to the second room. Instead of alcohol, give them cannabis, leave them overnight, you can bet when you check that room, everyone inside will be calm and at peace. All of them would be friends, the worst case is that they will have munchies and would want a food trip. And yet, cannabis is criminal but alcohol is legal. Does that make sense?” he asked.
This is not the first time that proposals seeking to allow the use of marijuana, particularly for medicinal purposes, were filed in Congress. In 2018, the call for medicinal marijuana got support from senators in response to studies that Cannabidiol (CBD) oil can be used by several patients suffering from neurological ailments.
Just this 19th Congress, Senator Robinhood Padilla filed a bill pushing for the compassionate use of medical marijuana.
The bill got support from parents whose children are suffering from ailments like cerebral palsy and epilepsy, as CBD oil and other products from cannabis are said to have a therapeutic effect on the patients.