Guam - In the second part of a three-part series on columns related to the decriminalization on cannabis use on Guam, I had a chance to speak to a long time proponent of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, Dr. Chris Dombrowski. 

JD: Dr. Dombrowski, when interviewing Senator Rory Respicio, I asked him why legalize marijuana on Guam? Which do you think is more acceptable to the island community, medical marijuana or outright legalization?  What is your stance as a proponent on legalizing cannabis use on Guam, do you support only Medical cannabis use, the outright legalization of cannabis with regulation or both?

Dr. Dombrowski: "Personally, I would not like cannabis to be legalized in the sense that alcohol is legalized. If we legalized cannabis, then some soul-less corporation will shove it down your kids lungs. Obviously the medical use of cannabis is more acceptable than outright legalization. Remember, the overall discussion here is not just about cannabis, it's about "responsible recreational drug use." Cannabis is safer than alcohol, tobacco, fat and sugar."

JD:  In order for cannabis use on Guam to become decriminalized, it can either be introduced in bill form, where it will be publicly heard, debated on the session floor, passed or failed by the Guam Legislature and be signed or vetoed by the governor.  If the governor vetos legislation should it pass, the legislature will have the chance to override it.  What do you think, bill form or referendum?  if it's bill form, do you think it will get enough votes to pass and possibly overidden? many senators, including the pres. of GMA and Lt. GOV have said there are many good uses for medical marijuana and lastly, there's always your thoughts?  If you think it's a decision to be made via a referendum, do you think the majority of residents will vote in support of the measure?

Dr. Dombrowski:  I recommend to Senator Respicio to make it in a bill form. I would propose a "Guam Comprehensive Drug-Control Reform Act of 2010: regulate cannabis/allow the medical use of cannabis/treatment over incarceration.  For example, all non-violent drug offenders get treatment not jail time. I would also throw in the industrial use of hemp also. Medical cannabis has a number of uses. I would say that 15% of my patients would do well with cannabis as opposed to the use of benzodiazepines-which are extremely addictive and have a high mortality rate from withdrawal.  Cannabis is already used in the pharmaceutical armamentarium: Marinol is approved in the US, and Sativex, not approved in the US. The studies and text books on the cannabinoids are out there and the studies are constantly ongoing

JD:  In a piece of proposed legislation yet to be introduced by Senator Respicio, there's language that would amend existing penalties for those caught with cannabis.  The proposed legislation would remove penalties and fines for those possessing less than an ounce of cannabis.  What are your thoughts on decriminalization?    If so, how would Guam protect be protected from the the feds?

Dr. Dombrowski:  Via a directive from United States President Barack Obama, the feds have already advised the Criminal Justice System and state Attorney Generals' of "wasting money" on the criminality of cannabis. President Obama wants the CJS and AG Offices to focus on "true crime."  Again, we are talking about "responsible recreational drug use" and the only organization that is calling for the legalization of ANY drug is law enforcement itself."

"From a broader perspective, this issue involves who dictates drug-control policy?  From my perspective (after 25 years in medicine) we have the wrong people making the wrong decisions. Drug-control policy is being dictated by those who have no training in clinical pharmacology or basic medical science (basically made up of  politicians and those in the CJS. This is equivalent to allowing the American Botanical Society to dictate military gun-control policy. I believe Drug-control policy should be dictated by the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences-Institute of Medicine.

In the final part of my decriminalizing cannabis series of columns, we'll go underground and see what cultivators think of possible economic prosperity related to decriminalizing cannabis.