Solon respects Duterte’s opposition to marijuana legalization

MANILA -- Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Monday said he respects and understands President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to oppose the legalization of medical marijuana in the country.

In a text message, Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on health, said Duterte's change of heart on medical marijuana may have been borne out of his "frustration" on the drug war, as it can be used for other purposes, particularly by drug traders, to further expand their businesses.

"Though I am open to talks on medical marijuana, I understand the change of position of the President. Because of his frustration on the war against drugs perhaps he is not taking any chances on the possible substance abuse on use of cannabis in the (guise) of medical purposes," Ejercito said.

"We have to respect the President's decision on medical marijuana. It's the prevailing situation and circumstances probably that made him change his position. He has access to intelligence and other info, he should have a better grasp of the situation than us," he added.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Duterte is "on the right track" with his recent pronouncement to thumb down the proposed legislation.

Sotto earlier said there is no need to pass law legalizing marijuana for medical use because Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, already has a compassionate use provision for marijuana and other dangerous drugs.

During his speech at the PDP-Laban campaign rally in Victorias City, Negros Occidental on Friday, Duterte said considering marijuana as a medicinal drug equates to condoning wrongdoings.

"I am ignorant of that kind of research, I must admit. And I do not read it and I do not intend to legalize it. Ayaw ko (I do not want to). Gawain mo lang excuse ‘yan eh (Legalization would be used as an excuse). Magtatanim ka ng iyo. Sabihin mo, 'medicinal man kaya ‘to (People might cultivate it and say it is for medicinal purposes)," he said.

The President said drug traders can use this measure as an excuse to continue their illegal businesses.

"Sabihin medicinal. Lahat na lang mag-medicinal na. (They say it's medicinal. Suddenly, everything will become medicinal.) That would be an excuse. Hindi ako pumayag (I did not agree). Not in my time. Not in my time. Some other president, maybe," he said. (PNA)


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