The Obama Administration's newly laxed policy towards federal prosecution of medical marijuana last week sent a message to some users that they may have less to fear, but suppliers must still follow state laws and regulations. Despite the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo that said targeting people who use or distribute medical marijuana in compliance with state laws was a "waste of time" for federal prosecutors.
Marijuana use of any kind is illegal on island, but there is a debate taking place in about how Guam will approach this very sensitive issue.
News out of Washington from the Justice Department that pot smoking patients and their suppliers should not be targeted for federal prosecution in states where medicinal marijuana usage is legal, sent medicinal cannabis advocates all over the United Stated into a tizzy.
Dr. Chris Dombrowski has been practicing medicine since 1985 and is a longtime advocate for medical cannabis usage. He told KUAM News, "The validity is tremendous, especially with regards to the use of chemotherapy, which causes a lot of nausea and vomiting. And if somebody is upchucking their guts, it is hard to get them to swallow two pills."
Other clinical applications are for easing premenstrual syndrome symptoms, unintentional weight loss, and inflammatory bowel disease such as crons or ulcerative colitis. One patient that Dr. Dombrowski treats at one of his clinics - who wished to remain anonymous - says he has been using medicinal marijuana to cure his addiction to alcohol. "The symptoms were alleviating the mental anxiety and also the physical properties, digestion, eating more, which is prevalent now used in cancer patients because a side affect of marijuana is that fact you are increasing your appetite," he explained.
Legal use of medicinal cannabis generally requires a prescription in the 14 states that allow some use of medical cannabis. But on Guam, marijuana possession is punishable by a fine and arrest for the possession of more than one ounce of the substance. Guam Police Department Spokesperson Officer Allan Guzman said, "If it's less than an ounce you can cite the individual for possession or use of marijuana and that can be placed on a traffic citation ticket with a minimum fine of a hundred dollars on the violation itself."
But the idea of using marijuana solely for medicinal purposes hasn't gone up in smoke just yet; discussions are currently underway about this very subject. Healthcare Committee Chair Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. cautions that strict guidelines must be in place if the island moves forward with the idea.
"It cannot be viewed as a form of recreation by anyone in the community," the senator said. "The only way I would consider looking at it is if it is considered a proper medical treatment."