The Guam Post reports
Although the attorney general of Guam has completed her review of the medicinal marijuana draft rules and regulations, and a written revision should be available shortly, the timely implementation of the rules may hinge on the necessity of additional legislation.
According to the office of Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, who co-authored the original medicinal marijuana measure, Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson has indicated that there may be a need for accompanying legislation to clarify certain aspects of the rules.
Based on conversations with the attorney general, accompanying legislation may include the taxation of medical marijuana cultivation and granting the Department of Public Health and Social Services the authority to establish standards for testing and quality control. These aspects cannot be established through rules and need legislative measures to be implemented.
Currently, Muña-Barnes’ office is developing legislation to cover key points in the rules. However, it will not be known what legislation will actually be needed, or whether additional measures will be required at all, until the revised rules are delivered to the legislature.
“Once (the rules) come to the legislature, the office will make the determination as to whether or not further legislation is required,” Muña-Barnes’ spokesperson stated. “But we are comfortable in saying that based on our initial conversation with all the stakeholders, it looks like there may be a need for legislation in at least two areas.”
The Department of Public Health and Social Services–the agency tasked with creating the rules–must first review the revised draft before delivering the new rules to the legislature. There is no date specified as to when the rules will be made available to DPHSS.
The law mandating the creation of the rules, the Joaquin (KC) Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act of 2013 was enacted in 2014 after gaining approval through a voter referendum. The law gave DPHSS nine months to promulgate rules and regulations.
A draft of the rules was submitted to the attorney general in October 2015. Barrett-Anderson stated in December 2015 that she needed more time to review the rules. The review was completed around March 24 and only the written revision remains.
In the meantime, Muña-Barnes has stated that potential patients have had to wait nearly two years without a means of legally obtaining medical marijuana.
Whether a need for additional legislation will delay the implementation process even longer remains to be seen.
The administrative adjudication law states that the rules can take effect if the legislature does not act within 90 days after filing them with the legislative secretary.
But if accompanying laws are required, one reason Muña-Barnes’ office is drafting legislation before the rules are even provided to them is to minimize wait time. Moreover, her office stated that the rules can still be offered without contemplating aspects like taxation, which could theoretically come at a later time.
In case the rules take longer to implement than desired, Muña-Barnes may pursue alternate legislation, which could include fully decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana and home cultivation, which was initially part of her original measure.
Ultimately, this will be determined by the revised rules.
“They might streamline the rules to the point where the process can be turned on very quickly,” Muña-Barnes’ office stated. “But if there needs to be infrastructure built out and there is a long lead time for it, then it might behoove us to create an interim process until such time that the rules are fully implemented.”