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By Louella Losinio for Pacific News Center
Guam received a “C” grade in the recent medical cannabis access state report released by the Americans for Safe Access (ASA). This is an upgrade to the “C-minus” grade Guam received during the previous year.
In the 2019 State of the States Report: An Analysis of Medical Cannabis Access in the United States, the ASA assigns a grade to a medical cannabis program in a state or territory using an A to F scale.
For the 2018-2019 reporting cycle, ASA mentioned several factors that facilitated or hindered the implementation of the medical cannabis program on Guam.
ASA noted that Guam had a slow roll-out after the enactment of the Joaquin Concepcion Act in 2016 and 2017, which prompted the signing of legislation that allowed home cultivation for patients, although its provision only applies until dispensaries on the island are operational.
In 2019, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed a bill that legalized cannabis on Guam for non-medical use. When signing the bill, the governor indicated that she was establishing a Medical Cannabis Regulation Commission to ensure patients were protected.
According to ASA, Guam deserves credit for allowing physicians to recommend medical cannabis for any qualifying condition, but, it needs to open dispensaries and address administrative delays to effectively serve patients.
ASA noted that the territory illustrates that a good program on paper does not necessarily translate to patient access. Guam also needs to improve its staff training in cannabis cultivation, dispensing, and manufacturing and increase civil rights protections in the areas of housing, organ transplants, and employment, according to the ASA.
ASA evaluates state medical cannabis programs both in isolation and against other state programs. Guam was assessed based on patient rights and civil protections, access to medicine, ease of navigation, consumer safety, and provider requirements.