By William Casis i FilAm Star Correspondent

Medical marijuana, once legalized by Congress, is bound to open the floodgates for recreational use of the highly addictive drug warned Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza recently.

Atienza, the House senior deputy minority leader, said the bill legalizing medical marijuana, which the House passed on third and final reading on January 29, would “create demand where there is none.”

“If we create demand through legalization, then supply will surely come. So, we will in effect be creating a whole new drug market where there is absolutely none for medical marijuana,” Atienza said.

He cited the case of Canada, which recently legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

“In the first two weeks alone after legalization, cannabis stores there sold some Canadian $43 million or PHP 1.7-billion worth of marijuana,” Atienza said.

“We don’t need medical marijuana here because, apart from the fact that the drug’s purported therapeutic values are unproven, Filipino patients already have access to the most powerful narcotic analgesics when needed,” Atienza said.

“Terminally ill cancer patients for instance have ready access to morphine injections when prescribed by physicians specially licensed by the Dangerous Drugs Board,” Atienza said.

“As to children with complex neuro-developmental conditions, they don’t need the (hallucinogenic effects) of marijuana. What they really need is the tender loving care of their parents and siblings,” Atienza said.

The Philippine Medical Association, the professional organization of Filipino physicians, rejected the medical marijuana bill, saying “it is contrary to the policy of the State to safeguard the well-being of its citizenry.”

At present, marijuana is a prohibited substance just like methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, cocaine and heroin, under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Under the law, mere possession of at least 500 grams of marijuana, or at least 10 grams of marijuana concentrate (resin or resin oil), is punishable by life imprisonment plus a fine of up to PHP 10 million.

Carrying lesser quantities of the drug is punishable by 12 to 20 years in prison plus a fine of up to PHP 500,000.