Are we missing the opportunity to legalize marijuana?

Are we missing the opportunity to legalize marijuana?

/ 04:05 AM February 28, 2024

Only recently, Germany joined the club of countries legalizing marijuana, otherwise known as cannabis. What is interesting about this is they will allow limited amounts for recreational use, even in selected public spaces. They will also permit growing cannabis plants, with up to three plants per household, and one can even join a “cannabis social club” of 500 members that will grow and distribute a limited amount of the drug. Don’t get too excited because membership will only be available to German residents. Such big steps will take marijuana out of the taboo zone.

Thailand has already taken the spot of being the first Southeast Asian nation to decriminalize the growing and selling of cannabis and has been benefiting from it ever since, not only in terms of socioeconomic but also scientific advancement. This is not about competition. What is important is we undermine the black market, protect citizens from contaminated cannabis, cut revenues for organized syndicates, and advance scientific research not only on marijuana but also on alternative plants with potential similar benefits.

My former partner and I had been discussing exploring and taking advantage of the wide biodiversity in the Philippines and how we can contribute to the scientific community such as finding alternative plants that also contain cannabidiol (CBD), one of the cannabinoids in cannabis used increasingly for treating conditions related to chronic pain, epilepsy, anxiety, among others. Our objective is to determine the presence of CBD in Philippine endemic plants and the absence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient associated with cannabis. This study also aims to bring new possibilities to the CBD production industry without the legal complexities associated with THC in cannabis.


While doing our initial investigation, there are possible Philippine endemic plants in the country that could be alternatives to marijuana. However, there are early obstacles I discovered along the way. Even in the first few procedures to selectively extract the phytochemicals I will be needing, there are special instruments and equipment that are not available in the country, not even at the University of Philippines.


Nonetheless, as more governments worldwide break free from the taboo zone about marijuana and move on from outdated policies, this is a crucial opportunity for collaboration across jurisdictions, studies, and stakeholders. And most importantly, not failing our communities, especially those who are terminally ill, those with rare and life-threatening conditions, and in need of easier access to medical cannabis. It’s about time for our politicians to look at the brighter side, have a collective vision, and make a historic move.

Teresa May Bandiola, licensed pharmacist

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TAGS: Letters to the Editor, medical marijuana, opinion

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