Public Health on the hot seat over medicinal marijuana - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Public Health on the hot seat over medicinal marijuana

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 5:23 PM Updated:

The Department of Public Health and Social Services took the hot seat before senators Tuesday afternoon. Among other concerns, senators and patients wondering when the Medicinal Marijuana program will finally be ready to roll out, after senators most passing a final form of more rules and regulations.  

It was in 2014 that the Joaquin KC Concepcion Compassionate Cannabis Use Act passed, legally allowing medicinal use of marijuana on Guam. Fast-forward four years later, of the 118 patients who picked up applications, only 13 are certified, including Jonathan Savares, who said, "There are patients that need help who are being discouraged because this program is still sitting here still, we've been doing this since 2014."

Public Health officials saying the rules and regs have been passed, but they're missing some fine details. Dr. Suzanne Kaneshiro explained, saying, "Since we don't have any money for a tracking system we're doing interest to see how much it would actually cost to acquire one...in the meantime the program itself there's no staff we never got staff, it's just me and a secretary that's been holding down this program."

Not to mention, no one has applied for the $1 million independent lab they need to quality check the marijuana. Though Public Health says one entity would be willing with a catch. "There was a comment from one entity they  were willing to do the lab if they were the only lab for the first 5 years to recruit their investment," he said.

Though ultimately, Savares says Public Health must also educate the public, so more patients won't be afraid to sign up. "Nobody's going to protect me," he said. "II'm scared, no one's going to protect me I'm scared, if I get pulled over and this cop doesn't know the law, I'm pretty sure I'm going to jail."

Senators and patients agreeing it's been too long of a wait.

Public Health additionally addressed the confusion between the MIP program and St. Dominic's Senior Care, stating that the audit that found patients ineligible was only preliminary and nothing is final. Officials also clarifying that the Medically Indigent Program does not cover custodial care. Senators saying they are ready to help Public Health if it ever comes to a change in services.

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