Emotional testimony over medicinal marijuana legislation - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Emotional testimony over medicinal marijuana legislation

by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was the first of two public hearings for the Joaquin Concepcion Compassionate Cannabis Use Act of 2013 and while the medical community was notably absent, it did draw emotional testimony from members of the island community.

It's been eight years since Malesso resident Marinalyn Hale was diagnosed with systemic lupus. And while she has taken a variety of medications to help ease her ailments, she supports the use of medicinal marijuana. "I've seen what this could potentially help me with," she said. "I could probably sleep better at night - I could probably get up in the morning and not be in pain, but I don't know because I haven't been given a chance yet."

And while lupus is not one of the debilitating medical conditions listed in Bill 215, the measure does allow for any other medical condition, treatment or disease approved by public health. Nonetheless, she says it's a positive benefit for the community.

Attorney General Leonardo Rapadas meanwhile stated his testimony was neither for or against the bill but would center around the legal aspect and legal implications of what is proposed. He further stated data of what has occurred in Washington and Colorado - two states that allow medicinal marijuana and have since ventured forward with legalizing recreational use that show an increase in youth marijuana use, emergency room admissions and fatalities.

 "The authors of the report I'm citing wrote 'citizens and policy makers may want to delay any decisions on this important issue until there is sufficient and accurate data to make informed decisions'," he said.

Rapadas further cited the possible violence that could increase as a result of possible drug trafficking organizations along with the federal banking regulations prohibiting the deposit of proceeds derived from the sales of marijuana. He continued, "So there's some inconsistencies here that frankly also need to be worked out 1906 this is a more complex issue then just medical marijuana there are other issues."

He further stated he believed that decisions relative to this law must be made dispassionately without emotions but just facts and science.

Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz and Senator Aline Yamashita spoke otherwise asking to limit discussion strictly on medicinal purposes, which the bill only calls for. "Because if we already know this can help and we already know that it's between you and your doctor, and it's highly regulated then so be it," he said.

Emily Concepcion meanwhile testified to that help describing what her husband the bill's namesake otherwise known as "KC" or "Savage K" had to endure through his battle with stomach cancer. "With chemotherapy, my husband suffered from nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, he couldn't grip things, he had numbness and tingling, he had skin problems, everything a 32-year-old shouldn't experience, he was," she said.

She says they relocated to Washington and with the use of medicinal marijuana, he was able to find peace before he passed away in July. "So with that, he started to gain more weight, his appetite was back, he was doing music, he was playing basketball, he was doing everything his doctors hold him he wasn't going to be able to do," she said.

And for Joaquin Concepcion, Sr., while the bill is named in honor of his late son, it's really not about him but the people. "The sick, the suffering, the ones that have lost hope because of increasing presence and aggressiveness of medical challenges in our ever changing community," he said.

Meanwhile, the Employers Council and the Guam Medical Society's ad hoc committee on medicinal marijuana did submit written testimony opposing the measure. Guam Medical Association spokesperson Dr. Erika Alford meanwhile tells KUAM News because several members of the GMA are on a medical mission in the Philippines, they will be providing testimony at the second public hearing in December, further adding their position stands as against Bill 215.

Public Health director James Gillan meanwhile will also be submitting testimony at the second hearing but would not state his position. That hearing is set for December 12 at 5:30pm. 

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