PNP eyes planting coffee in marijuana farms
DUMAGUETE CITY—The Philippine National Police is looking into the possibility of stamping out the marijuana problem by replacing marijuana plantations with another addictive but equally lucrative substance—coffee.
PNP Deputy Director General Ricardo de Leon, commander of the anti-illegal drug operations task force, said they are studying what coffee varieties would grow in areas formerly planted to marijuana.
“Marijuana is so toxic that after the soil is planted to it, no other crop can grow there,” De Leon told reporters Friday while on a visit to this city and Negros Oriental, where he was provincial commander of the defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC/INP) from 1988 to 1990.
He said the idea of planting coffee in erstwhile marijuana plantations was hatched during a meeting of anti-drug advocates at the Cordillera Autonomous Region recently.
The Philippines is exporting barako (Batangas) coffee to Arab countries, which have grown to love Phillippine coffee, he said.
Recent anti-drug operations have revealed that marijuana use is again on the rise because of the scarcity of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).
He made the comment after Councilor Noel de Jesus, who is also a doctor accredited with the Dangerous Drugs Board, proposed the legalization of marijuana in order to unload the police of the burden of running after marijuana users.
De Jesus cited an increasing trend among advanced countries to decriminalize the use and cultivation of marijuana because of its medicinal and therapeutic value.
De Leon, however, contended that decriminalizing the cultivation or use of marijuana would create more problems. He noted studies that show that marijuana users tend to graduate to higher drugs, like shabu.
“I am happy that the law does not allow us the cultivation or use of marijuana,” he said.
De Leon also frowned on suggestions to stop the use of shabu by mixing it with poison and selling them in the market to drug users.
“That will not be fair to drug users because some users are victims. Some users do not even want to take drugs but do so without knowing it,” he said.
The PNP recently launched its new anti-drug program called the “Pamilya Ko Ayaw sa Droga” (My family does not want drugs), which also hopes to strengthen family ties.
Families, De Leon said, should impose their own curfew at home so that parents could monitor their children and keep them away from harmful drugs.