(Manila) Rumors that the plenary debates on RA 17411 or An Act Legalizing the Use of Marijuana for Medicinal, Recreational, and Culinary Activities would involve turning the Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex into a giant hotbox were confirmed yesterday by the bill’s sponsor Mountain Province Rep. Victor de Barrios.
“It is good that the speaker has finally agreed to the hotbox,” said de Barrios in an interview yesterday. “They are already looking into how to seal the hall and we are extending invitations to a few ska and reggae bands to perform at the debate.”
Critics Disapprove of Hotbox
The hotbox has not been received well by a large number of groups, among them the Senate.
“How could this be fair? We don’t have a senator who hails from Mountain Province so we can’t make a counterpart hotbox session,” said Senator Macario Maglipon.
De Barrios has declined to answer if he is providing the House of Representatives with the marijuana they will be using for the hotbox session and if pork barrel funds will be used for the purchase.
Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga (MAD) has already expressed its extreme disapproval of the proposed bill although it indicated its willingness to participate in the hotbox should a member be invited to attend.
All Part of a Bigger Plan
Not surprisingly, Tobacco companies in the country have also questioned the move to legalize marijuana.
“We do not see a need to legalize marijuana at this point in time,” said Philip Morris International public relations officer Nathan Dizon. “Why not just focus on developing existing products such as ours? Nicotine is very addictive and poisonous and we can proudly say our products kill people by the hundreds of thousands all over the world every year.”
Responding to the bill’s critics, de Barrios said in an interview over DZXX that legalizing marijuana was only part of his bigger plan.
“The point is that rather than sending our countrymen abroad to transport drugs in very dangerous conditions, we can just have the foreigners come here and partake of our country’s homegrown natural treasures.”
RA 17594 or The Revised National Tourism Act of 2011, an update to the older Tourism Act of 2009 is also sponsored by de Barrios and places marijuana at the center of the country’s tourist attractions.
“There will be ganJazz musical festivals, rowboats made of cannabis, marijuana puto and kakanin, the possibilities are boundless!”
The congressional hotbox is set for early next week.