It appears islanders will get to vote on medicinal marijuana - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

It appears islanders will get to vote on medicinal marijuana

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just a day after oral arguments were heard in the Supreme Court of Guam, an order was issued today in favor of the Guam Legislature relative to its case against the Guam Election Commission over medicinal marijuana.

Will voters decide this November whether to allow the use of medicinal marijuana locally? It appears to be the case as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Legislature's request for a declaratory judgment in placing the question on the general election ballot.

"I'm very blessed," expressed Senator Tina Muna Barnes. "Today is a very, very good day."

The declaratory judgment stemmed from the Guam Legislature wanting the Supreme Court to determine whether it had the power to prescribe by statute the conditions and procedures pursuant to which the right of referendum of the people of Guam shall be exercised. "I just want you to know I believe in my heart that with the bipartisan support and my cosponsor Senator Aline Yamahsita that giving the people the opportunity of this bill of great importance and having them go out and make this decision is the right thing to do," Barnes added.

In the order, the Supreme Court finds that the legislative submission mechanism falls within the scope of the term "referendum" and that legislative submissions do not constitute an improper delegation of legislative authority. It further notes that Public Law 32-134 complies with the requirements of Chapter 16 of the Guam Code Annotated. The supreme court however decided to not address the question of whether the GEC may decline to place a legislative submission on the ballot because it believes it violates Guam law. Barnes says for now, this is a victory for people like Joaquin Concepcion II fondly known as Savage K who Public Law 32-134 is named in honor.

"They had to go off and get more treatment and this alternative was provided for them and they truly wanted to bring the information and education awareness so that other families who's loved ones are suffering could know and understand what alternatives are out there for them to look at and this is one option that could be visited," she said.

GEC legal counsel Jeff Cook meanwhile refrained from commenting until he's consulted with his client, which mostly likely won't be until the GEC meets this Thursday.  Attorney Howard Trapp, who filed an amicus brief against the Legislature's request, says the Supreme Court's decision is directly in "contravention of United States Code 48 Section 1423b" that says no bill shall become law unless its passed by the affirmative vote of majority of the members of the Guam Legislature. He adds the matter could be taken to the US Supreme Court and if so says "I believe the US Supreme Court would reverse the Supreme Court of Guam's order in a heartbeat."

Guam Election Commission Board Chairman Joe Mesa tells KUAM that the GEC had a question and suggested to the Guam Legislature that they pursue this route of a declaratory judgment. Mesa says he appreciates the court acting as expeditiously as it did and will further discuss the matter at the GEC’s Thursday meeting.

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