By Gian Franco, Socio-Politcal Editor |
SENATOR TITO SOTTO thinks he is right: there is no such thing as “medicinal marijuana”. He even added that he has enough empirical data to prove us wrong.
Does Sotto have the distinction of having the “M.D.” at the end of his name, like a lot of the cannabis advocates, eh?
The truth is, what the noon-time comedian host supposed to mean are really misleading researches that collected dust in the libraries. He did not consider the beneficial marijuana claims that are floating around already — especially now that the states of Colorado and Washington in the United States of America (USA) has legalized the use of medicinal marijuana.
These are not just blank hypothesis of the sick people, neither of the millions of people who use marijuana recreationally: hundreds of medical journals and doctors have already seen positive effects of marijuana’s ‘medicinal’ substances.
First things first, I neither puff a weed nor have any relation to those who do. But, I am closer to believing that marijuana can really be the answer for what synthetic drugs cannot heal, which means that means pharmaceutical companies and hospitals are going to lose millions of profit.
Well, that could be another case why the legislative department is so consumed of denying its help.
Testimonies abroad say it greatly lessens the pain of diseases such as cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; chronic nervous system disorders; epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; HIV or AIDS; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea.
There were names of children whose parents’ hopes barely kept up when they see their child suffering in just one of a hundred or thousand seizures every day. Did the Sotto experience the same in any time of the day? These children are unable to walk, run, and speak and at worst genetic order cases, see nothing.
Charlotte Figi, who is already 7 years-old, was the first child in Colorado to experience the dramatic decrease of head-beating seizures from more than 40 times a day to two or three per month. Why? A regular dose of the high-cannabidiol, low- THC strain “Charlotte’s Web” that does not induce the traditional “high” replaced over ineffective treatments and years of confinement in the children’s ward.
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The century-old international debate can be halted and marijuana can be used with several sanctions: but the problem is that the law itself is the problem.
The current law allows suffering and death.
Flawed laws, agencies
The Philippines is a signatory to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which bans the possession, use, trade, distribution, import, export, manufacture and production of drugs exempting the limited use for medical research.
Now we begin where impartiality meets ignorance.
The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 allows the limited sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals when authorized by the law for research purposes.
However, researches of the Dangerous Drug Board focuses on drug prevention and abuse under consent of the government. They are recognized to do researches other than to criminalize marijuana, but they don’t.
The campaign is all about abuse of marijuana when in fact New York Academy of Science proved that marijuana “do not lead to significant addiction in the medical sense of the word.” Cannabis hooks around 10% of its users, cocaine by 20% and heroin users become addicted by 25%. Tobacco users are susceptible the most by 30%.
Highs and lows of using marijuana
The Department of Health and the Philippine Medical Association are also misled by thinking that the absence of cannabis in their prescriptions makes them as saintly. Last year, more than 700 million pesos was allotted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for intelligence, operation, and investigation.
A huge sum of money used to some of which are allegedly dud and mock operations.
The DDB also had P 178 million last year, but the researches uploaded on their website seem to be not even worth a peso at all. If you’re wondering what they could be, forget the laboratory researches participated by medical experts and scientists that we ought to imagine.
Throughout the 10 years of study (2002 to 2012), the kinds of researches available were about drug use and its effects, the mapping of rehabilitation centers, and the simplest researches you could think of. Their latest study about marijuana was the assessment of cultivation sites in 2006 and 2007 which they say “assess the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s efforts to eradicate the cultivation of marijuana in the country.”
So where do we get the irrational demand of incontestable research of medical marijuana before UN?
The Congress can amend the law for research and put up a separate agency exclusive for beneficial drug research of marijuana and its properties that are yet to be discovered.
These should come first: the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 needs some tweaks, further stressing on local research of medicinal marijuana’s benefits with the help of experts abroad. A change in attitude should be done: welcome medical journals for affirmation. These procedures will be conducted officially by a separate agency for marijuana studies and preparation for safe introduction to even toddlers.
While the move for separate agency cannot be possible this early yet, a medical marijuana bill which will be filed in March by Rep. Rodito Albano of Isabela shall propose the realignment half the budget of DDB to medical cannabis research.
Though the organization Philippine Moms for Medical Marijuana has already been on the move compiling medical researches with local and foreign experts, it might be possible DDB will not urgently push for the production of their own studies within 5 years, even in the face of enough testimonies and research.
Because, you know, budget they say.
After signed into law, it will provide a separate agency, under which are the departments responsible for sanctions and regulations that will be strictly considered in delivering medical marijuana to the public.
Of course, it will take time before the law will be perfected but the following shall be imposed to avoid later regrets due to mishandling of the law. The medical marijuana law of Colorado could be slightly the same as to ours, but with some changes and additions.
(You can download the PDF and read the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code here: http://bit.ly/1fyrODP)
First, since the country would advocate for only the medicinal use of marijuana, the law shall only allow persons above 30 years of age to buy medical marijuana from licensed marijuana dispensaries and authorized street dealers. High-cannabidiol, low- THC strain shall be readily available in the market for both children and adult patients.
That separate agency, then again, should research for alternative and effective preparations that will neither effect nor cause “high” to children.
Recent research from Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta shows that the brain still undergo development post-adolescence. News-medical.net writes:
“For their research they used magnetic resonance imaging or MRIs to scan the brains of 103 healthy people between the ages of five and 32. Each study subject was scanned at least twice, with a total of 221 scans being conducted overall. The study demonstrated that parts of the brain continue to develop post-adolescence within individual subjects.”
Next, saved funds of DDB and PDEA intended for raid operations of marijuana facilities, trade, and smuggling should be channeled to the marijuana research agency for continuous study. This will help them campaign the benefits of its different preparations, dosage, and awareness.
(Check this out On the preparations of Indian Hemp, or Gunjah: http://1.usa.gov/MQb4hd)
Marijuana sales of both licensed marijuana dispensaries and street dealers will then be taxed but separate from the Sin Tax law for alcohol and tobacco. But not too high because it is never a highly-profitable business we usually think.
Since we expect few shops to open once it is legalized, dealers or operators in this market will find themselves competing to meet the lowest price possible, while wearing out their gross profit margin. Considering the costs of cultivating pot farm, rent of space, monopoly competition, maintenance of the pot shop, licensing fees, regulatory expenses, assets and of course, labor–investors will have to think twice before jumping in to the literally stinky business.
Then, a department from the marijuana agency will take care of the government accounting and annual business reports of the dispensaries to ensure not one illegal transaction occurred, and for proper taxation.
PDEA will be tasked for the inspection and monitoring of licenses. The agency will also take care of different medical, psychological examination and background check every renewal of license. This is to ensure that the operator is physically and mentally fit to abide the sanctions provided.
Closed-circuit television or CCTV systems will be mandatory to the dispensaries. For street dealers, log book of transactions and inventory will be enough for government accounting.
Maybe I do not have such knowledge in law but that I welcome marijuana for the welfare of children is what I say the great equalizer.
At this point, I’ve realized something. You are reading this writing of who was once a victim of brainwashing. I remember as a grade school student staring to wristbands of Rastafarian colors being sold in our canteen. At the back of my mind, I criminalize that iconic leaf I once thought for Reggae musicians. That those who wear these colors have no chance in life, no turning back to God.
Until then a male in his 20s and I’m sure he’s not a science teacher told our class, “Hindi naman drugs ang marijuana, eh. Gamot talaga ‘yan.”
I silently asked “why?”
Eight years later, I found myself supporting cannabis use which an Iskul Bukol graduate in the Senate opposes–with no heart for ill children suffering hundred seizures every day.
And I still ask, “Why?”
You can reach the writer for updates, comments, and other concerns: Follow @thegianfranco on Twitter.