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Public Health drafts medicinal marijuana policy

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While we're still a long way from seeing its complete implementation on Guam, the Department of Public Health has completed the first draft of the rules and regulations needed for medicinal marijuana on Guam. Agency director James Gillan says over 3,000 people on Guam could be eligible for medicinal marijuana - and with this many people, there's a potential for millions of dollars in revenue.

"We had estimated and this was just a guess, the street value or street price of an ounce of marijuana, the number of patients who might be able to use, we estimated at $90 million in gross revenue if it's at $500 an ounce," Gillan explained. But in order to get there, Public Health has to develop the rules and regulations needed for the implementation of the new law.

Gillan says the first draft of 133 pages was recently completed, adding, "This is the first draft. It will be one of many, this is based primarily on what we could get from the state of Arizona made some changes in order to make it fit the Guam situation."

Gillan is working with Arizona's Department of Health Services on the web-based application system. He wants to model medicinal marijuana after Arizona as he believes it's been carried out in the state "efficiently." While Gillan has nine months from February to promulgate the rules and regulations, he hopes to do it before then. And along with the advisory board reviewing the draft, he'll also be getting feedback from various stakeholders, such as the Guam Police Department.

"We do have stakeholders who are affected by this - you can, when you think about the police department alone, having to probably. When they encounter somebody who they suspect is under the influence of alcohol and drugs, they're going to have to do some testing and we find they have no equipment to do street testing for marijuana, because it is clear in the law that if you're found DUI, that's not an excuse. So we need to see what they're going to need in terms of equipment to do testing," he said.

More than two dozen stakeholders will be distributed the draft rules including Rev & Tax, the courts, insurance companies, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, the Guam Medical Association, and of course the Guam Legislature. Gillan says he initially thought it implementing medicinal marijuana would be fairly simple, but has since realized it is not.

"It's important because we have to start somewhere obviously," he shared, "and this is borrowed from a program that's worked. It's not perfect and getting as many people who are affected by this involved in tweaking it and refining it is very important."

He adds getting the feedback will also help determine what will be considered an adequate dose to distribute. The stakeholders will be given the draft rules within the next week. Gillan says in the meantime, three people from Public Health will be going to Arizona in May to learn about the software and source code needed for Guam.

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