Medical Marijuana Can Fund Important Government Programs – Manila Bulletin

Senator Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla said medical marijuana could play a key role in funding major government programs that would benefit all Filipinos.

Padilla underscored this yesterday as the Senate prepares to tackle the proposed national budget for 2023 from September 14.

In a speech of privilege, Padilla also said there was a need to find other sources of income, especially since many government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) depend on the government for their annual budget.

It is time to stop this “phenomenon of cow milking”, he added.

“As we plan how to spend our limited funds wisely, let’s not forget the hard-earned contributions of our taxpayers. With this in mind, we need to stimulate the economy and this is where medical cannabis can play a major role),” Padilla said.

“Panahon na po para tayo naman ang magpunla ng sariling atin. Tandaan po: kapag may itinanim, may aanihin (It is time for us to maximize ours. What we sow, we reap),” he added .

For the 2023 national budget, Padilla noted that while the government has drawn up various programs to create jobs, invest in infrastructure and digitalization, and implement other projects in line with its eight-point socio-economic program, all these programs need 5,268 billion pesos. financing – with only P3,632 billion in revenue and P2,207 billion in borrowings.

”If we have to borrow to fund our programs, shouldn’t we be looking for other sources of funding – other than adding taxes? With medical marijuana, ‘Don’t panic, it’s organic’),” he said.

Padilla noted that the economy is one of the main reasons he is pushing for the passage of his Senate Bill 230 which would allow legal access to medical cannabis — apart from its health benefits.

For this reason, he proposed that his speech be referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means of Exploring the Economic Viability, Feasibility, and Benefits of Medical Cannabis in the Philippines.

On the other hand, Padilla noted that many GOCCs lost money – in 2021, grants to 80 GOCCs reached 212 billion pesos, but these GOCCs only generated 38 billion pesos or 18% of dividends. He lamented that the GOCCs suffered net losses of some 33 billion pesos.

Some of the heavily subsidized GOCCs with little dividends include the National Food Authority (NFA), the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), the National Electrification Authority, the National Power Corporation (Napocor), the Philippine Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), the Philippine Tax Academy, Southern PH Development Authority and Tourism Promotions Board, he said.

”We realize that these companies have a public service mandate and are not supposed to put money first. But we expect them to at least show budgetary discipline and transparency. We have to stop this dairy cow phenomenon where they just depend on the government for their budget,” he stressed.

”It is a painful reality that we are still drawing funds from our coffers. Many of our government-owned and controlled companies rely on public funds for grants, equity and net loans, but give little or nothing in return. In 2023, we will shell out 195.8 billion pesos for these GOCCs without the promise of a return on investment that will benefit our people,” he said.

“It is time we consider other ways to generate the necessary income,” he added.

The legislator pointed out that in Asia alone – with 4.5 billion people – the Philippines may have an advantage since the cannabidiol content of cannabis grown here is higher than in neighboring countries.

He noted that in 2021 medical cannabis was worth some $37.4 billion globally – and in Asia which is beginning to open its doors to the cannabis industry, $158.9 million or $8.7 billion. pesos are spent on medical cannabis in Israel in 2020 alone.

In Thailand alone, where the use of medical marijuana was legalized just four years ago, the medical cannabis market is estimated at $79 million in 2021 alone.

“There are so many opportunities for medical marijuana to help our economy – especially for the Philippines which needs a lot of funding,” Padilla said.

Meanwhile, Padilla highlighted the health benefits of medical cannabis, based on 29,802 publications on the subject – including US studies from 2016 to 2019, showing that cannabis has “moderate to high quality of evidence effectiveness, efficacy and safety” under medical conditions where its use is authorized.

He also pointed out that the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs removed cannabis from the list of dangerous drugs in December 2020, even though cannabis has been used as medicine for over 3,000 years.

Furthermore, he said the medical use of cannabis was legal in 70 countries, with 4.4 million patients having access to legal cannabis products – but these did not include Filipinos.

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