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Most HS students positive for drugs used marijuana—DDB

Marijuana was the drug of choice of high school students based on an ongoing drug test held nationwide, an official of the Dangerous Drugs Board said.

DDB vice chairman Undersecretary Paul Oaminal said that drug testing from Feb. 4 to Sept. 2, 2009 showed that out of 12,909 students tested, 30 turned out to be positive for drug use.

"It is quite alarming that of those who turned out to be positive, 28 tested positive for the use of marijuana, while the other two were positive for shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride)," Oaminal said.

In December 2009, the number of students positive for drug use reached 72, 70 of whom were positive for marijuana use, Oaminal said.

The random drug testing covered the regions of Central Visayas, National Capital Region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Zamboanga Peninsula and CARAGA region (composed of the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur).

"It is expected that for this year the random drug testing for high school conducted by Department of Education in coordination with the Department of Health will go full swing, while the Commission on Higher Education has initially started testing college students," he added.

Oaminal said that the students preferred marijuana because of its accessibility and affordability.

He said the preference is worsened by the myth that marijuana has medicinal properties and has no side effects or ill effects.

"This (problem) should be addressed by school authorities and the community. Preventive and demand reduction advocates of the Department of Education, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the DDB must educate the youth that marijuana has no medicinal purpose and that it has ill effects that destroy the mind and the body," Oaminal said in a telephone interview.

Marijuana was declared by law as a dangerous drug because it has been established that it was addictive and its constant use caused ill effects, like shabu and other illegal drugs, he explained.

When he was the DDB chairman, former senator Vicente Sotto had introduced an alternative development program for marijuana farmers.

Under the program, the areas identified as locations of marijuana plantations like Benguet, Balamban of Cebu and San Fernando of Bukidnon have been developed into abaca plantations and silkworm farms, Oaminal said.

Sotto, before his resignation from the DDB, has ordered the expansion of the program to the towns and cities of Danao, Dalaguete, Badian and Toledo in Cebu and the mountain villages of Cebu City. (inquirer.net)

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