Fertile Ground

High Times: Are more PH farmers planting marijuana?

In late August, a certain Primitivo Ardimer eluded arrest for planting marijuana in Sitio Mit-oil in Barangay Tagbao (Cebu). The farmer had cultivated 25,000 stalks of fully-grown marijuana.

Cebu City Mobile Force Company (CMFC) filed charges against Ardimer, who is said to be a resident of neighboring Sitio Mapa. The total value of the discovered crops is estimated to be about P10-million pesos.

Farmer’s Choice

Last January, the PNP and PDEA seized and burned 106,140 fully grown marijuana plants in the North. This was during a 3-day series of operations in a vast area across Kalinga and Benguet. The value of that seizure was estimated to be over P25-million pesos.

Cash Crop: Is it high time for PH to decriminalize cannabis?

Political Push

A few weeks after the bust in Kalinga, the province’s governor James Edubba came out to publicly support medical marijuana. According to him, legalization would aid in deterring the prevalence of illegal plantations in the region.

According to the PNP, the Cordilleras leads the country in planting marijuana. Nonetheless, within the region, Edubba is not alone in his embrace of progressive cannabis policy.

Benguet Congressman Eric Yap as well as Ifugao Governor Jerry Dalipog are other prominent politicians looking far into the future. Dalipog’s suggestion was to convert abandoned rice terraces for planting marijuana. Edubba supports such pro-farmer initiatives, and has asserted that he’ll only support pro-cannabis policy if multinational corporations are kept out of it.

Green Revolution

Down South in Mindanao, Davao del Norte solon Pantaleon Alvarez leads the charge in the so-called “green revolution” that could change Philippine agriculture. Alvarez’s House Bill (HB) No.6783, is by far the most aggressive of all coming from the Lower House. It seeks the complete decriminalization of marijuana and any form or derivative of the substance.

In a panel discussion earlier this year, Alvarez had claimed that a bold move in cannabis policy may save Filipino farmers from current woes. “If we will allow the farmers to plant marijuana, baka yan na yung solusyon ng rice smuggling (maybe this could the solution to rice smuggling),” he said.

At the moment, high rice prices continue to be a problem for Filipinos, with widespread smuggling of the crop still a pressing problem. This is despite continued warnings to smugglers from no less than President Bongbong Marcos himself.

Better late than never

So with the smuggling of rice and other crops seemingly persistent if not worsening, are more Filipino farmers actually planting marijuana?

More are certainly getting caught, but perhaps it’s out of desperation. Our farmers may not be looking to get rich in illegal trades. They may just be looking to survive as they face challenges brought by inflation, climate change, and other factors.

In Thailand, cannabis as an industry is poised to rake in billions. With the Philippines struggling to take care of its farmers, and more food security issues looming in the distance, is this the crop of the future we must take a long hard look at? Late to the party as we may be, it might still be a feasible option.

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