Guam: Public Weighs In On Medical Pot Program Changes

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Katelyn Baker

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Lawmakers held a public hearing Friday evening to allow the community to weigh in on a pair of measures that would revise Guam's delayed medical marijuana program.

Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, D-Mangilao, introduced Bills 343-33 and 344-33 last month after holding a separate series of hearings over the latest version of the program's rules and regulations, drafted by the Department of Public Health and Social Services this past year.

Voters approved the Joaquin KC Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act in the 2014 General Election. Since then, Public Health has been tasked with drafting the rules and regulations for the program.

But many took issue with the $25,000 fee to operate a dispensary and the inability of qualifying patients to cultivate and grow their own plants at home. Others believed the program limited access for many patients and also were concerned that it doesn't ensure a patient's privacy.

Based on those concerns, Barnes introduced legislation to scrap the proposed rules and regulations written by Public Health. Lawmakers passed that bill unanimously during session Wednesday night. Lawmakers had until Aug. 10 to take action on the proposed rules and regulations, otherwise they would have become law.

On Friday, the public was asked to give their input on bills that would amend several provisions of the program, including the price to operate a dispensary. Under Bill 343, the cost to operate a commercial cultivation site would range from $2,000 to $15,000.

To operate a dispensary, the program would charge a nonrefundable application fee of $5,000 and upon an application approval, a licensing fee would cost $5,000 as well. The permit to operate would $5,000 and the annual renewal fee is $5,000.

The bill also makes the program a more patient-physician centric one, in which a physician determines if the patient could benefit from medical marijuana use instead of the Public Health department deciding - a suggestion strongly advocated by the local group Women Grow Guam.

Bill 344 would allow qualified patients to grow up to six plants in their own home. Some caveats of the bill include: one permit per residence; landlords can restrict cannabis cultivation on their property; the growing plants must be out of public view and home cultivation sites cannot be within any Drug Free School Zone.



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Full Article: Public Weighs In On Medical Pot Program Changes
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