Guam Medical Marijuana Program At Standstill Without A Testing Lab

Photo Credit: Leah Thompson

No one has applied for a license to set up an independent testing laboratory nearly two months after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed a bill implementing the rules for a medical marijuana program, a Guam official said.

The marijuana program, approved by voters in 2014, can’t start without a testing lab, the Pacific Daily News reported . Department of Public Health and Social Services Acting Director Leo Casil said on Thursday that the program is at “a standstill.”

Casil said Public Health still estimates that the startup cost for a testing lab is $1 million.

Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, who wrote the medical marijuana rules and regulations bill that became law, said the lack of testing lab applicants could be attributed to a lack of regulations. His bill 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.

He said the Department of Public Health can also reach out to entities such as the University of Guam’s Marine Laboratory to do the independent testing.

Voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana on the island for debilitating medical conditions such as epilepsy, HIV, cancer and glaucoma.

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 lab licensed by Public Health before they can be sold to a qualified patient or a qualified patient’s primary caregiver.

Although there is no applicant yet to set up a testing lab, Public Health continues to research other areas of the medical marijuana program, Casil 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.