Senator Pacquiao seeking to impose the death penalty for drug crimes in the Philippines

Published Jul 17, 2019 09:54 a.m. ET
iStock / Aleksandr Kravtsov

The cultivation and the use of marijuana in the Philippines is illegal. Marijuana is classed as a Schedule 1 drug; this classification puts the legal use of marijuana for scientific and medical purpose only. After methamphetamine, marijuana is the Philippines second most used drug. The illegal cultivation of marijuana in this country is mainly for the countries local use. Smoking marijuana is common, although an unlawful practice throughout the country. Having in your possession 500 grams or more of marijuana or marijuana resin will qualify the owner of that marijuana to be in the position of acquiring that penalty currently.

Senator Manny Pacquiao believes without the bill being passed; the Philippines will continue to be in peril. The current law provides for life imprisonment and a fine to be imposed for schedule 1 drug involvement. He believes there should never be legal marijuana.

May 2014 saw a bill introduced known as House Bill No. 4477  AKA. The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. This bill did not get passed by Congress.

However, late in January of 2019, House Bill 6517 received the third and final reading providing a bill named the Compassionate and Right of Access to Medical Marijuana and extending Research into Medicinal qualities and other purposes. This will aid patients to benefit from the use of medical marijuana. Health conditions that would meet the requirements for medicinal marijuana include any disease that presents with wasting syndrome, severe nausea, and chronic pain. The permit includes patients with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or a life-threatening illness. Epilepsy or severe muscle spasms will also be included in the health conditions that will be categorized for receiving medical marijuana use.

Bill 189 filed by the senator seeks to have the death penalty imposed with a fine from P1 to P10 million to anyone who imports, distributes, sells, or possesses illegal drugs. The culturing or cultivating of plants are classified as dangerous drugs.

Since 1972 marijuana has been illegal. Residents with severe ailments or terminal illness can apply for a special permit to allow the use of medical marijuana. To date since the issuing of permits that began in 1992, only a single application has been filed. This application was filed to allow cannabis oil used for health reasons.

Senator is looking for stringent responses from the government through initiating a tough policy. He is adamant that the war that is raging against illegal drugs has not yet been won and needs strict vigilance to be continued.

It is interesting to note that 200 participants attended the 420 march in the Philippines, were advocating for the legalization of cannabis. Participants carried placards with, "No Jail for the Plant" Organizer state this is the most massive march to date.

The question remains, will marijuana in the Philippines continue to be a schedule 1 drug proposed to carry a death penalty for production and use of the plant? Or will the protests and the advance of medical marijuana’s use for conditions listed below be heard?

• Chronic pain
• Depression
• Epilepsy
• Anxiety
• Nausea
• Side-effects from chemotherapy treatment used in the treatment of cancer

Are the penalties that the senator is attempting to have passed too severe? Only time will tell, meanwhile, recreational marijuana in the Philippines is illegal.

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