The technical working group (TWG) of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chaired by Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers met to discuss House Bill 6783 which seeks to remove cannabis and any of its form or derivative from the list of dangerous drugs and substances under existing laws.
The bill authored by Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez would amend for the purpose Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, as amended.
The bill provides for the exclusion of “cannabis and cannabis resin and extracts and tinctures of cannabis from said list and schedules.”
Committee on Dangerous Drugs Vice Chair and Leyte Representative Richard Gomez, who also heads the TWG, traced the history of cannabis use in the United States of America and all over the world.
Gomez told the resource speakers that TWG would try to balance everything in the discussion of the bill to allow use of cannabis or its derivatives for certain uses.
Let’s have an exception for recreational use of cannabis until after official, conclusive and scientific studies are completed by Filipino scientists and experts who are in government service.”
The legislator made an exception for recreational use of cannabis “until after official, conclusive and scientific studies are completed by Filipino scientists and experts who are in government service.”
Alvarez’s chief of staff, Atty. Vincent Aureus, conveyed his principal’s position on the bill, “Ang position ni Congressman Alvarez is that sayang ‘yung revenue potential ng marijuana. If we wait for the entire world to legalize it, tapos saka pa lang tayo mag legalize, by that time, the price of marijuana also follows the law of supply and demand. So wala na tayong makukuha by that time. Pag dating sa concerns regarding health, we recognize may concern ang Philippine Medical Association (PMA) but at the same time if we allow substances with no clear benefits pagdating sa health, such as alcohol and cigarettes, then it does not make sense anymore. It does not add up na we will prohibit marijuana.”
The Dangerous Drugs Board represented by Atty. Ferdausi Masnar mentioned, among others, that the Philippines is a signatory to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol.
Masnar said part of the general obligation of the State in that convention is to give effect and to carry out the provisions of the convention in the country.
“Under FDA existing rules and regulations, the use of cannabis is allowed only in the context of medical use.”
The Food and Drug Administration through its representative Atty. Emilio Polig Jr. said under their existing rules and regulations, the use of cannabis is allowed only in the context of medical use.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed support for the bill. CHR Atty. Joms Asalan recommended the inclusion of a regulatory provision in the bill.
Other agencies and organizations which submitted comments and positions on the bill were the Department of Health (DOH), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), PMA, and the Medical Cannabis Party-list.