Cash in cannabis: Lawmaker sees big bucks in medical marijuana

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2019 10:24 AM

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MANILA - Exporting medical cannabis would enable the Philippines to tap into the multibillion-dollar industry and at the same time provide treatment to ailing Filipinos, a lawmaker said on Thursday.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said there is still time for the Philippines to be part of the bandwagon.

"There are already 60 countries that legalized medical cannabis. That shows it has really great potential for medical purposes, at the same time commercial purpose. It's use for a lot of medical purposes, if you have migraine, anxiety, its anti-cancer, seizure," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

Under his proposed bill, Villafuerte urged for the creation of a new government agency--the Philippine Cannabis Development Authority--which will be the sole leading agency authorized to cultivate, plant and distribute medical cannabis.

The congressman said the production of medical cannabis is expected to grow to a $250-billion to $300-billion industry in the next 10 years.

"Why? Because big companies, even pharmas, are seeing the benefits and the acceptance of people," he said.

He said that cannabis has two types of species, the hemp which is CBD (cannabidiol) and the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

"There's a difference between CBD which is hemp and THC which is marijuana, which gives you euphoric effect 'yung nakaka-high. CBD does not have psychoactive euphoric effect," he said.

The lawmaker said his bill on medical cannabis focuses on the curative effects of CBD.

"We can start by importing the purest quality of CBD either in the US or Germany. 50 percent of exports in the world come from China now," he said.

He admitted that the bill needs to be explained properly not just to colleagues in both chambers of Congress but also to the public and the President.

"I think just provide him the empirical scientific data on the benefits of CBD, why it can help drug addiction, why it can help cancer patients, why it can help so many diseases."

"With proper explanation and if the public accepts this, I think they will be open to it," he said.