Election could dictate future of medical cannabis, advocate says
November 05, 2018 | Geoffrey Marshall
By Manny Cruz for the Pacific Daily News
"The pharmaceutical industry has failed us. Marijuana isn't killing people, opioids are killing people. If you're looking at the future of medical cannabis on Guam and you're not part of it—it's not going to happen. Stay frustrated, and do something about it."- Steph Sherer
The prospect of a complete roll-out of the island’s medicinal marijuana program over the next few years will have a lot to do with what happens on election day, Nov. 6, according to a leading cannabis organizer.
“It’s inevitable that this program will come to fruition. But until we know who gets into office we really can’t say when,” Andrea Pellacani said. “We do know there are candidates who’ve expressed interest in advancing the medicinal marijuana program, and I’m glad to see there were quite a few who attended today’s workshop.”
Pellacani is a managing partner of cannabis advocacy group Grassroots Guam, which hosted a workshop on Saturday to facilitate community discussions with national experts amid recent developments with the program and local politics.
The medicinal marijuana program, which voters approved in 2014, made headway last month when a home cultivation bill was signed into law after four years without program implementation.
The home cultivation law allows qualified patients and caregivers to grow cannabis at home, until it becomes available at dispensaries.
“As a policy maker I would like to get more information about how to facilitate a medical marijuana program and also the legal aspects of it,” said senatorial candidate Sabina Perez. "This is a therapy that's needed by patients with certain illnesses, and I think the barriers to implementation should be removed; and I would like to help facilitate that."
Guest speaker Nic Easley, a large-scale medicinal cannabis cultivator, said there are a multitude of economic opportunities for Guam, once the medicinal program is fully implemented.
"Most programs in Asia want to have cannabis, but aren't interested in growing it themselves," Easley said. "Guam has a unique advantage because of its location. I've never seen a more prime state or territory that is positioned to make a global impact with medicinal marijuana like Guam. It's unmatched."
Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, said the impetus for implementation must come from the people, if the island is to see a full implementation of the medicinal marijuana program.
"Politicians very rarely will do anything simply because it's 'the right thing to do,'" Sherer said. "They represent communities, and if they aren't hearing from the community then nothing will happen."
There are 31 countries with existing medical marijuana laws, and a growing number of U.S. districts following suit.
"The pharmaceutical industry has failed us. Marijuana isn't killing people, opioids are killing people," Sherer said. "If you're looking at the future of medical cannabis on Guam and you're not part of it—it's not going to happen. Stay frustrated, and do something about it."