In the midst of one of the most brutal drug wars on the planet, Duterte said on Monday that he used marijuana to keep up with the hectic schedules of summits world leaders are obliged to take part in, according to The Manila Times.
Speaking on the summits, Duterte said, “It’s a killing activity, and I think my age, I take marijuana to stay awake. For others, they can’t take it.”
According to the Manila Times, he went on to say that the long summit days made him think the schedulers thought they were dealing “with Boy Scouts” and that the food “is awful.”
As the news hit the mainstream Philippine Press with the original comments on Inquirer.net, the conversation quickly picked up in chat groups among local medical marijuana activists. Only an hour and a half after the story initially dropped, Duterte responded to the initial media reports by claiming that his comments were in jest.
“It was a joke, of course, it was a joke but nobody can stop me from doing my style,” Duterte said. “That’s my style, it’s too late to change. If I want to joke, I will joke. If you believe what I say, then you’re fools.”
We reached out to The Philippine Cannabis Compassion Society to get their take the quality on Duterte’s weed jokes.
“In the chat groups of PCCS patients and their family members, there were mixed reactions the first time they read the news about President Duterte’s statement that he took marijuana to keep him awake. It did give a bit of hope to some for a while until he declared it was a joke,” PCCS Executive Committee member Lui Manansala told Cannabis Now.
“The life of the dying or the sick is not a joke. They need legal access to medical cannabis now,” said Manansala.
Despite the brash comedy routine by Duterte, activists are not letting it get their spirits completely down and rightfully so. HB6517, or the Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act is on its second reading in the lower house Congress. This means that the bill is one step away before it will go before a vote. But Manansala says it seems the Congress has other priorities and does not see any urgency for the bill to be scheduled for a final vote.
“We see countries all over the world and even in Asia make medical cannabis legal and even the adult use of marijuana,” said Manansala. “But sadly in the Philippines, lawmakers have been snubbing the bill and the patients’ clamor for medical cannabis. And many doctors fear its legalization.”
While all jokes aside, there is plenty of reason to believe grassroots support can push the cause over the finish line. Duterte himself was reminded of his promises of supporting medical cannabis reform after yesterday’s jest, but the reality of what his current war on drugs is doing to Philippine medical marijuana patients is a lot darker.
“PCCS has been receiving messages asking where to access medical cannabis. We all feel helpless not being able to provide the answers they want to hear from us since even cannabis for therapeutic purposes is still illegal,” said Manansala, who would face certain arrest and possibly much worse if he was found to be providing cannabis to sick Filipinos.
Possession of at least 10 grams of marijuana resin or marijuana resin oil like full-spectrum CBD oil, or at least 500 grams of flower, is punishable with life imprisonment and a big fine. So having a few tubes of CBD oil could put you away for life for sure.
According to Human Rights Watch, over 12,000 people have died in Duterte’s war on drugs. We asked HRW their take on Duterte’s recent comments on medical marijuana.
“Of course that’s not the kind of joke this president should be making, especially since thousands and thousands of Filipinos have died without due process for allegedly using or peddling illegal drugs, including marijuana,” said Carlos Conde, a Philippines researcher at HRW. “This is an insult to the families of the victims who’ve been murdered in the past two years of the ‘war on drugs.’ It demolishes even further the credibility of the ‘drug war’ that he has waged so brutally.”
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