Nearly two months after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed into law a bill implementing the rules for a medical marijuana program, no one has applied for a license to set up an independent testing laboratory, Department of Public Health and Social Services Acting Director Leo Casil said on Thursday.
The marijuana program, approved by voters in the 2014 General Election, can’t start without a testing laboratory.
“It’s a standstill,” Casil said. “No one has so far applied for an independent testing lab license.”
Voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana on the island for debilitating medical conditions such as epilepsy, HIV, cancer and glaucoma.
Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, who wrote the medical marijuana rules and regulations bill that became law, has said the lack of testing lab applicant could be attributed to a lack of regulations. His billl adopted the rules and regulations rewritten by the Department of Public Health, and also opened up the program to non-residents in order to increase the pool of potential patients and make it more financially viable.
“I was hoping Public Health would be more pro-active rather than just waiting for an applicant,” Rodriguez said Thursday.
He said Public Health can also reach out to entities such as the University of Guam’s Marine Laboratory to do the independent testing.
The law requires all medical cannabis, prepared medical cannabis and medical cannabis products on Guam to be tested for potency and safety by an independent medical cannabis testing laboratory that’s licensed by Public Health, before they can be sold to a qualified patient or a qualified patient’s primary caregiver.
Casil said Public Health still estimates that the startup cost for a testing lab is $1 million.
Although there is no applicant yet to set up a testing lab, Public Health continues to research other areas of the medical marijuana program, he said.
Casil said Public Health is challenged by a lack of experts on medical marijuana as well as other resources.
Rodriguez said at this time, it seems unnecessary to appropriate more funds to Public Health for the medical marijuana program.
Next week, Rodriguez’s Committee on Health, Tourism, Military Affairs and Senior Citizens will conduct an informational hearing on the medicinal marijuana program.
The informational hearing is set for 2 p.m., April 10, at the Guam Congress Building.
The same hearing will also tackle Public Health’s other programs, such as those related to senior citizens services, St. Dominic’s Senior Care and the Division of Environmental Health related to health regulated establishment inspections.