The controversial bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana is “not likely” to be revived in the new Congress in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s strong position against it, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said on Sunday.
“Hopefully, the bill will not be renewed because everybody knows it is bound to be vetoed by Malacañang, and with good reason,” Atienza, the House senior deputy minority leader, said.
Duterte previously said that he would not legalize medical marijuana in the country, as it could be misused for purposes other than to treat ailments.
The President also warned that drug traffickers could exploit medical marijuana to further expand their illegal trade.
The principal author of the bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, will no longer serve in the incoming Congress, having been elected governor of his home province.
In the outgoing Congress, the House passed Albano’s bill on third and final reading, but the measure was stalled in the Senate.
“Proponents are using false, misleading and unproven information to advertise medical marijuana to the public,” Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, said.
Medical marijuana is being falsely advertised here in the same way that opioid pain relievers were being falsely advertised in America in the 1990s, according to Atienza.
“In fact, false advertising created the opioid crisis that now kills more than 130 people every day in the United States from overdoses,” Atienza added.
“Opioid pain relievers were initially trumpeted as ‘rarely addictive’ in patients, and this encouraged physicians there to prescribe the drug at greater rates,” Atienza said.
“But it turns out that opioid pain relievers are in fact highly addictive, thus the fatal overdoses,” Atienza said.
Opioid pain reliever overdose has become the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50, according to the US Surgeon General.
“Here in the Philippines, medical marijuana backers are also ignoring the fact that it has a very high rate of addiction and has not been proven effective for long-term use,” Atienza said.
Atienza warned that the legalization of medical marijuana “is bound to open a ‘Pandora’s box’ of drug abuse that will surely lead to a costly public health crisis and law enforcement problem.”