Second round of hearings for medicinal marijuana bill - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Second round of hearings for medicinal marijuana bill

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - A second round of hearings is scheduled for legislation aimed at legalizing medicinal marijuana on Guam. The first hearing last month brought out the Attorney General's Office and today the regulatory agency set to be in charge of it finally gave its position.

"I cannot support it - as it stands, without adequate funding and staffing, it would be a joke," noted Public Health director James Gillan, who is finally giving his opinion on legislation aimed at legalizing medicinal marijuana on Guam. He says Bill 215 can work and he can even get behind any means to alleviate people's pain however it's the regulatory burden that has him opposing the measure as proposed.

Gillan added, "And we don't think that we're up to the job one because the bill doesn't allocate any funding to get this program off the ground. I suppose it assumes that the fees that we would collect for the certificates that we would give to patients or their sponsors that somehow that would pay for the costs to the program, but I'm not yet even able to determine what that cost is going to be.

Among the duties of the director within this bill includes establishing a seven-member advisory board along with promulgating rules that include considering applications for registry identification cards and defining the amount of cannabis that is necessary to constitute an adequate supply.

In his testimony he says passage of Bill 215 would appear to contradict and violate the Guam Uniform Controlled Substances Act since cannabis is not recognized as having any medicinal value because it will still be listed as a Schedule 1 drug. But it's not just regulations he's concerned about. "We're sending some public health messages that we don't want you to smoke tobacco but it would be okay to smoke marijuana," he stated.

Gillan further adds issue with vulnerable populations and children getting access to the drug and hopes to have regulatory capacity to keep the quality of the product safe. He ultimately doesn't believe the bill will pass anytime soon, but will eventually in time as 58% of the states are in favor of not just legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes but all together across the board. The upside, Gillan says, is although Public Health wasn't consulted, he is willing to work with the bill's author Senator Tina Muna Barnes to fix it.

Said Gillan, "It is an emotional issue and the governor understands that and he's very concerned about that part of it and he understands the pain and suffering. He really would be in favor of this kind of thing if the regulatory issues were resolved."

The Guam Medical Association meanwhile continues to oppose the legislation as GMA spokesperson Dr. Erika Alford says the group's testimony will fall in line with its release when the bill was first introduced in October. The GMA believed Bill 215 has caused confusion in the community adding the diagnosis and treatment of diseases should be left to trained medical professionals and not be legislated.

Guam Police Department spokesperson Officer A.J. Balajadia tells KUAM the department will wait if and when Bill 215 becomes law to provide any comment. 

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