Respicio reveals marijuana bill at 4:20pm - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Respicio reveals marijuana bill at 4:20pm

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Senator Rory Respicio has followed in the footsteps of lawmakers in California, in the CNMI and in 27 other jurisdictions in the United States that have reformed their cannabis laws.  Today he introduced the Compassionate Healthcare Act of 2010 to legalize marijuana on Guam.  

"We want to file this at 4:20pm to tie-in with the symbolism and the whole meaning behind 4/20," the veteran Democrat policymaker said. While he may have introduced the bill at 4:20 in the afternoon - a time internationally recognized as the designated time for recreational smoking of cannabis - Senator Respicio says his bill does not allow for recreational use of marijuana.

"We're not advocating the use of cannabis for recreational types of activity at all," he clarified.

Bill 420 would allow for the establishments of local compassionate centers that would be authorized to grow and sell marijuana.  "It's complicated, when a doctor prescribes the use of marijuana for some medical illnesses we also have to license growers and so we had to in that bill set up mechanism to be able to do that," he explained.

The legislation would require the Department of Public Health to develop administrative rules, forms, procedures and regulations for the compassionate care centers.  Those running the centers would also be required to submit the location of the center where the marijuana would be cultivated, as well as the security and safety measures that would be in place.  

The legislation, according to Respicio, was crafted in close consultation with local physicians, including input from Guam Medical Association president-elect Dr. Thomas Shieh.  He said, "We think that we can get the support of Dr. Shieh and he's been reaching out to other medical professionals, as well as Dr. Chris Dombrowski, who's been a the forefront of this debate for more than a decade." Bill 420 would give licenses physicians to recommend and prescribe cannabis to patients they deem need it.

Island residents meanwhile reacted to the introduction of the legislation - some were opposed to the bill.  "Hell no! I mean any Tomm Dick and Harry no, no," said Iris Gonzales.  And Mary Fay Carpio added, "I don't think it's a good idea to legalize marijuana for Guam. It's a bad influence for the children."

Others support the legalization of marijuana but solely for medicinal purposes.  Tom Palomo said, "I don't smoke it, but it's up to the people who do.  It's good [for medicinal purposes], well, it's for a reason it should be good for other reasons."  And Pat Largo said, "For medicinal purposes that sounds good if it's for medical purposes. It's not for social or just to be high this is for medical purposes."

While he knows there will be plenty of debate on his bill, Senator Respicio is asking the public not to let the idea go up in smoke.  "I just ask the people of Guam to pause for a moment and if they're afraid of something I am trying to do, they really should be more afraid of something like alcohol and the effects it has on the human mind and body more than the effects marijuana has," he stated.

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