• ‘National disaster’ if marijuana is legalized

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    A lawmaker has opposed a proposal to legalize marijuana use in the country, warning that the move could spell national disaster.

    Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd was reacting to the bill filed at the House of Representatives seeking to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes, with the proponents citing supposed studies abroad that tout marijuana’s beneficial effects.

    While the intention of the bill is to help those individuals with chronic or debilitating disease, Sotto on Sunday said the ones who would greatly benefit from the proposal are drug syndicates that are already making a killing from the sale of marijuana.

    “The proposal to legalize marijuana is misleading, camouflaged under the term ‘medical marijuana.’ You do not declare a nuclear bomb legal just because a small component of the bomb can be used to light up your house,” he noted, referring to House Bill 4477 or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Bill, filed by Rep. Rodolfo Albano 3rd of Isabela.

    The senator insisted that if marijuana or “pot” was legalized, the government would inevitably promote its use especially among the young who may find that smoking pot is just as acceptable.

    Based on the data from the Dangerous Drugs Board, marijuana has consistently been the second most commonly abused substance for the past several years next to shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

    The Albano bill seeks to create a regulatory body under the Department of Health that will oversee the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

    The move is gaining traction among lawmakers who are in favor of marijuana use for treatment of debilitating diseases.

    “This is a big business for drug traffickers and, if we legalize marijuana, this will become a bigger business for them,” Sotto said, cautioning that the move could spell national disaster.

    Under Republic Act 9165, also known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, marijuana is classified as a dangerous drug. Its possession and use is punishable with 12 years’ to life imprisonment, depending on the quantity of the drug.

    In contradicting the supposed medicinal characteristics of cannabis, Sotto also cited a study conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy of the United States of America, which showed that marijuana contains Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that primarily affects the cannabinoid receptors in humans.

    Many of these receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception and coordinated movement.

    Numerous studies show that THC’s negative effects are short-term memory problems, distorted perception (sounds, sights, time, touch), hallucinations, delusions and reduced blood pressure.

    Long-term use leads to addiction, sleeplessness, bad temper, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

    Chronic use of THC leads to mental illness, vulnerability and exposure to violence, respiratory problems and impaired brain development.

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