By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
SENATE PRESIDENT Vicente C. Sotto III on Monday said the Senate will not pass any measure legalizing medical marijuana following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s turnaround on this matter.
“It will not be passed in the Senate. If it gets passed…, the President will veto it. Again, waste of time,” he told reporters.
“Remember the Executive Department is the one executing the laws so even if we want to pass a law, if the Executive Department does not want it, they will just veto it or they will not execute the law. So waste of time, waste of money,” he added.
Mr. Duterte last Friday said he was against the legalization of marijuana in the country, warning that its use for medical purposes might be used as an excuse to cultivate it for other purposes.
“Marijuana. They are cultivated…I’ll give you the excuse to harvest for… They will say it’s medicinal. Everything is medicinal. That would be an excuse. I will not allow it. Not in my time, he said at a campaign rally in Negros Occidental on Mar. 8.
Mr. Duterte earlier expressed support for such a measure and even joked that he also smoked marijuana. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo also said the President would sign a bill legalizing medical marijuana.
The House of Representatives passed on third and final reading on Jan. 29 House Bill No. 6517 which seeks to legalize the use and research of medical marijuana in the country.
For his part, Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on health, told reporters in a mobile phone message, “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.”
“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(rmation), he should have a better grasp of the situation than us,” he added.
Mr. Sotto on Monday said groups that want to plant marijuana for other purposes were behind the push for its legalization. He added that the President may have received intelligence reports similar to his claims when he changed his mind.
“There are many intel(ligence reports) reaching the President that only he receives. So in some reports, I’m sure one of those reports that he received was what we have said, that those who want to push for the legalization of marijuana wanted to plant it and to legalize their planting,” the Senate leader said.
“People who need medical cannabis are already using it. These groups are using the (medical aspect) as a front,” he added.
Mr. Sotto said the use of marijuana for medical purposes is already allowed under the declaration of policy provisions in Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.