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Medicinal marijuana advisory board meets

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Less than two months after its official enactment, the advisory board in charged with overseeing the implementation of medicinal marijuana informally met for the first time today. While two dozen other states have already legalized medicinal marijuana throughout the nation, Guam is the first United States territory to do so. And in order to ensure its implementation is practical, affordable and enforceable, a ten-member advisory board has been empanelled.

Department of Public Health director James Gillan said, "We begin to realize now as we move closer to the finalization at least for the first draft, that this is not an easy thing to do." The advisory board is tasked with adding any new medical conditions that may benefit from medicinal marijuana, address appeals and determine what is an adequate dose, something Gillan says may be a challenge.

"Because we have neither the expertise or resources to do that - the way my friend in Arizona had done it and he has access to a lot of resources, but he kept it very simple: 2.5 ounces every two weeks. We think that we need to do more than that because we do have people who will not be able to tolerate a smoked product; people who may not be able to tolerate infusion," he explained.

While informal, the goal was to discuss each member's role in moving the effort forward. The board consists of several medical specialists including neurologist Justin Hale, who sat in for Ramel Carlos. He said, "Marijuana is essentially a mind altering and changes the function of the brain and potentially adds some toxicity to the brain long-term, so we want to be involved with the conversation."

Department of Agriculture deputy director Matthew Sablan also will also be a part of the team. "We've got a lot of young farmers that want to be certified and there's a whole lot of process to this," he stated. "Again, we are not going to be growing medical marijuana at the compound, we have federal laws against that; again, it's to assist the accounting and monitoring of the programs we go along."

And Senator Tina Muna Barnes, the author behind the initial legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana, will be on hand to help. "My role in this is to make sure that we continue to work together to move this program forward and make this a success," she told KUAM News.

Senator Barnes mentioned that legislation has been introduced stateside that would reclassify marijuana as a scheduled two drug under the Controlled Substances Act. And while today's meeting was informal, the public will have a chance to engage more in the conversation as official meetings and public hearings will be held once the draft rules and regulations is completed.

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