Barnes hopes to get Bill 215 on January session agenda - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Barnes hopes to get Bill 215 on January session agenda

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Just as it did in 2013, Bill 215 is expected to spark debate in the New Year, as co-author Senator Tina Muna Barnes hopes to get the bill on session floor this month.

"We are the markup stage," she said.

It was Senators Barnes and Aline Yamashita that teamed up to introduce legislation proposing to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes only. Bill 215 was named after the late Joaquin Concepcion or Savage K a local musician in Guam who was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and moved to the state of Washington where he died in July of last year.

The measure had two public hearings in 2013 and in the New Year Senator Barnes will move into the next phase. "There was like five recommendations to amend the bill anywhere from the amending the title we're looking at the advisory board the makeup there we're also look at the scheduling and making sure that we have provisions from the scheduling one to schedule two or further. We're also looking at some other aspects that the community has sent us in on how this really will be distributed. We're also looking at how if this got approved how the identification process would go through and working closely with the Department of Public Health and some of those recommendations will already be substituted in the bill when we try to get it on session floor in January."

Barnes admits there have been challenges. As we reported the Department of Public Health testified against the legislation primarily because it lacked the resources and manpower to implement and oversee the additional responsibilities the agency would be tasked with should the measure become public law. The democrat lawmaker however says there is a system of checks and balances built into the bill.

She said, "One of the biggest concerns was how will it be regulated and how would the distribution take place again the purpose would be for the use of medical cannibals for only medical reasons and those protocols and those reasons and those rules and regs will be detailed and when the advisory council comes together there will be rules and regs that will be delineated and then it will come back to the legislature again for final approval so this is still the preliminary stage even when we pass the legislation if it gets passed into law the government and the executive branch will still need to do their jobs and then it all comes back to the legislature for final review."

Senator Barnes says that if the bill isn't on session agenda this month. She is optimistic it will be debated on the floor before the end of the first quarter. "When these stake holders come together when this bill passes that we do it right and for all the reasons to help those who are truly suffering from cancer and the debilitating health issues that are going on with our residents," she said.

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