Ceza chief tells execs: Profit from hemp not hallucination
BAGUIO CITY — Instead of burning marijuana plantations in the Cordillera, authorities should consider developing hemp farms to benefit upland farmers, according to the head of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) on Thursday (Aug. 8).
Hemp is the less addictive strain of the cannabis plant which can be used to produce conventional products like textile, and is different from marijuana which has high psychoactive chemicals, said Raul Lambino, who attended the quarterly assembly of the Cordillera Regional Development Council at the presidential Mansion.
The operations to eradicate marijuana in the mountains bordering Mountain Province and Kalinga province, which are undertaken annually by the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, have been too costly, said Lambino, who was here as presidential adviser for Northern Luzon.
Poverty drives farmers to continue planting the illegal weed, which had been a problem “when I was still in high school,” he said. “Marijuana sold in Pangasinan comes from Benguet,” Lambino added. He was raised and completed his education in Pangasinan.
Getting the Dangerous Drugs Board and the PDEA to exclude hemp from the list of banned or controlled substance would prompt farmers to replace marijuana, he said. Lambino said he had written the DDB and PDEA about hemp, hoping to convince the anti narcotics agencies that it is different from the illegal weed.
Lambino said foreign companies have expressed interest in a potential hemp market should government decide to classify this type of cannabis as an agricultural product.
Investors from Canada and Europe approached CEZA last year about manufacturing fabrics, rope, paper, and medicine using hemp, he later told newsmen. “But I told them It could not be done,” Lambino said, while government continues to lump hemp together with marijuana.
Law enforcers have concentrated marijuana eradication drives around the Kalinga town of Tinglayan and Kibungan town in Benguet province, where plantations are usually found, according to a PDEA report during the RDC meeting.
Hashish, a marijuana derivative, is allegedly manufactured in the Tingyalan village of Buscalan, and sold to tourists who frequent the area, the PDEA report says.
A kilo of marijuana costs between P8,000 and P15,000.
Earlier, Benguet officials proposed setting up controlled marijuana gardens, due to a measure legalizing marijuana’s medicinal use which the House of Representatives passed last January. Vincent Cabreza/TSB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.