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Public Health gains knowledge about mainland cannabis control

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The people of Guam will soon see the implementation of medicinal marijuana on island, but is Public Health ready? Public Health has long said it hopes to mirror the implementation of medicinal marijuana after the state of Arizona. And what better way to get hands on experience than to visit the Grand Canyon State?

"Definitely the visit to Arizona has been eye opening for a lot of things we had several questions that were answered but at the same time several questions that still need to be answered," said Tom Nadeau from Public Health. Like Guam, Arizona's law was passed through a voter initiative in 2010. Michelle Lastimoza and Rosanna Rabago were part of the team who had a chance to visit dispensaries and cultivation sites - a total of 147 of which exist in the state.

Rabago said, "So the dispensaries what it means by that is those are those facilities where qualified patients or caregivers would actually visit in order to obtain their medical marijuana. The cultivation sites are those facilities that are directly linked to those dispensaries in Arizona where they would actually grow the medical marijuana."

They also visited infusion kitchens where the things like marijuana tinctures, ointments, and food products such as brownies, lollipops and chocolates are made. But along with touring the sites, Public Health officials were also able to address problems the state has encountered. "Arizona's rules and regs does not factor in a laboratory component in their rules and regs and we in our program decided that was problematic because you can have different types of marijuana products and they can have different types of concentration, whether it's a high level of THC or a low level of CBD and it can vary," Rabago added.

Public Health officials also made their way to Steep Hill Laboratory in California. Steep Hill is an independently owned and operated cannabis analysis, biotechnology and research and development facility. Another issue Public Health encountered was evaluation centers specifically, physicians taking advantage of the program and signing off on hundreds of certifications for medical marijuana.

"But we realize with a program such as this, there are many opportunist who want to take advantage of the system, so our visit was very revealing in that we learned a lot so we can find internal processes so kind of control and prevent those things from happening here on our island," she added.

Public Health says the findings of the trip will most likely result in a revision in Guam's draft rules and regulations. At least three public hearings are tentatively scheduled for next month.

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