From left, moderator Lakay Gonzalo, Dr. Gem Mutia, Ms. Zarah Uytingban-Cruz and Dr. Richard Nixon Gomez. – Photo by Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY – Experts in the field of Medical Cannabis were one in saying that tobacco smoking has no medical benefits.

During the Media Health Forum on Monday, September 11 at the Gerry’s Grill in Eton Centris, EDSA, Quezon City, Zarah Uytingban-Cruz, Cannabis Program Specialist of the City of Sacramento in California, United States said “As a manufacturing industry player, we support the proposed decriminalization of mere possession of cannabis.’

This was the reaction of Cruz on the proposed legislations, particularly on the amendments or changes in the proposed legislations pertaining to the legalization of Medical Cannabis in the Philippines.

Cruz added that on the smoking on indoor or outdoor in the House version which for me is prohibitive to small farmers.

“Maraming banks na ayaw magpautang sa medical cannabis industry sa United States,” Cruz also said.

“Pag naging federally legal ang cannabis, there would be many developments and even in the local,” she added.

For his part, Dr. Gem Mutia Dr. Gem Mutia, an Adult Medicine specialist and founder of the Philippine Society of Cannabinoid Medicine, said “there are 10 bills about Cannabis which is monumental.”

Dr. Mutia cited that of a petition of parents seeking for the decriminalization of cannabis.

“The rest of the bills will be with the Technical Working Group. Hindi pwedeng yung legislators at administrators lang ang gumagalaw. Dapat pati ang information dissemination ay gumagalaw,” Mutia said.

“Sa Netherlands, approved ang bulaklak ng Cannabis for therapeutic purposes,” he added.

“Wala namang ahensya ng gobyerno dito (Pilipinas) na against sa Medical Cannabis. Ang gusto lang nila ay importation ng Medical Cannabis,” Dr. Mutia said.

“Sa United States, nagrecommend si President Joe Biden ng pardon for those federally-convicted of drug cases,” he added.

“Ipinag-utos din ang pag-aaral na ilagay sa Schedule 3 ang Marijuana as per United Nations resolution,” Dr. Mutia said.

“May binigyan na sila ng permit to import for compassionate use pero napakamahal naman,” he added.

“Definitely, wala pong medical benefits ang tobacco smoking,” Dr. Mutia said.

“Mukhang sa DOH (Department of Health) at PMA (Philippine Medical Association), sapat na sa kanila ang sin taxes sa smoking,” he added.

“By real world evidence in 2014, talagang nakakagamot ang cannabis,” Dr. Mutia said.

“Ang DOH, which is part of DDB (Dangerous Drugs Board), sila ang malupit imbes na compassionate sa cannabis users,” he added.

On the other hand, Dr. Richard Nixon Gomez, scientist/inventor of Bauertek Corp., said that there is no government owned and run plantation in the Philippines.

“The old proposed bill was on allowing the private sector to own and run a plantation,” Gomez added.

“Indoor farming is maganda. Mas makokontrol ang microbial contamination sa indoor farming kumpara sa outdoor farming,” Dr. Gomez said.

“Napakamahal ng outdoor farming, eh bakit tayo mag-outdoor farming. Bababa ang cost ng ating goods kung indoor farming na pwedeng isali sa closed facility,” he added.

“In all those areas, sa Philippines, di papayagan ang raw form — washing, drying, saka pa lang i-extract,” Dr. Gomez said.

“The plant will not be used in its raw form to produce cannabis. Bakit natin igigiit ang indoor, eh kaya naman natin ng outdoor,” he added.

Likewise, Dr. Gomez said that “as of two months (July 15, 2023) ago, there are over 112,000 Filipinos who die from tobacco-related diseases each year.”

“About 23 percent of male deaths and 10 percent of female deaths are caused by tobacco, which is 17.5 percent overall,” he added.

Dr. Gomez pointed out that “over 20 percent of non-communicable disease-related deaths are ischemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes, COPD (Cardio Pulmonary Obstructive Disease), lung cancer, among others.” – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.