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Citing its medicinal value, NGO pushes for marijuana legalization

Citing its medicinal value, a non-government organization in the Philippines is pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana use in the country. In an article posted on its website, the Philippine Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Pormal) said marijuana (also known as hemp and cannabis) has shown “established" effects in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, unintentional weight loss, and lack of appetite. GMANews.TV tried to get in touch with any official or member of Pormal, but was unsuccessful as the group's website doesn't include contact details except a link to its Facebook page. Zion, the supposed author of the posts on the group's website, also did not leave any contact details. A search on the Securities and Exchange Commission database likewise showed that the group is not registered with the SEC. Aside from Pormal, an international NGO lobbying for the legalization of Marijuana called the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws also exists. Its website may be viewed here. Medicinal value According to Pormal, other “relatively well-confirmed" effects were in the treatment of spasticity, painful conditions, especially neurogenic pain, movement disorders, asthma, and glaucoma, it said. It also said that cannabis-based drugs could be “useful" in treating psychological and mental conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, childhood mental disorders, depression, alcoholism, and Tourette's Syndrome, among others. Other diseases and medical conditions where cannabis-based drugs could prove "useful" are inflammatory bowel disease, migraines, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, collagen-induced arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, colorectal cancer, depression, diabetic retinopathy, dystonia, epilepsy, digestive diseases, gliomas, hepatitis C, Huntington’s disease, hypertension, urinary incontinence, leukemia, skin tumors, morning sickness, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. “What other medicine or drug do you know of that has so many applications, without dangerous side effects?" the group asked. The group likewise said hemp can be the solution to the earth’s scarce source of renewable resources. "Pollution, poisons and chemicals are killing people. These great problems could be reversed if we industrialized Hemp," it said. According to Pormal, the only reason marijuana was made illegal was because it would have rivaled oil as the material used in the production of synthetics and in effect brought down many businesses. “Marijuana is not illegal due to it being dangerous — because it is not. Marijuana is illegal because billionaires want to stay billionaires. That’s the bottom line," Pormal said. Pormal aims to responsibly disseminate information on the proper uses and products that can be derived from the marijuana plant, and, ultimately, legally lobby for the decriminalization of its use. Gateway drug Sought for comment, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Dionisio Santiago said he is opposed to the idea of decriminalizing the use of marijuana as it would lead to more widespread drug use in the country. “That's why we call marijuana a gateway drug, so medyo takot ako, baka maging loose cannon tayo (I am a little afraid, we might become a loose cannon)," he told GMANews.TV in a phone interview Tuesday. Santiago, a former military chief of staff, noted that even prescribed drugs get abused. He said if marijuana really has medicinal values, doctors would find a way to prescribe it. Santiago, however, said he is prepared to listen to Pormal’s arguments. “I-justify nila. Ready ako anytime to face them (They should justify it. I am ready to face them anytime)," he said. Misguided group Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, former head of the Dangerous Drugs Board, challenged Pormal to submit empirical data to prove their claims that marijuana is in fact beneficial. “That group is misguided. They’re completely wrong. That’s probably just a gimmick," he told GMANews.TV in a separate interview on Tuesday. The medicinal use of cannabis is legal in Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Israel, and 14 states in the United States. In the Philippines, no bills have been filed with the Senate regarding the decriminalization of marijuana use. — KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV