Medical cannabis board convenes first meeting

The first medical cannabis board finally convened on Wednesday, April 10, shown above. The cannabis control board will be meeting next. (PNC photo)

Guam – The first medical cannabis board finally convened on Wednesday- 6 days since the enactment of the adult-use marijuana bill into law and 5 years since the legalization of medicinal use.

Department of Public Health and Social Services director Linda DeNorcey chaired the meeting, along side members of her department and the Guam Legislature. Representatives from government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Guam Economic Development Authority, Guam Environmental Protection Agency, and the Guam Board of Medical Examiners were also present during the meeting.

Questions on the delineation and overlapping of tasks and responsibilities of the medical cannabis board and another entity, the cannabis control board, was raised during the meeting. Sen. Therese Terlaje, who has legislative oversight over the board, said the two should remain as separate entities. Chelsa Muna-Brecht, agriculture director, agreed with the senator.

“I still think that there is a necessity for this law and a necessity for this commission, simply because the adult-use legislation addresses the use for those who are 21 and over, But if there are medical patients who require use that are 21 and under, who regulates and advocates on their behalf?” Terlaje said.

During the meeting, Brecht also spoke about the idea of a government entity providing the testing process. She said this would avoid and prevent the monopolization of a lone laboratory testing provider over the entire cannabis industry.

According to Brecht, she has confirmed the potential of a government agency operating the lab with two of her department grantors – the U.S. Forestry and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

“I explored that question with some of our federal grantors and the position of at least two different divisions is that as long as personnel or grant funding is not co-mingled with local funding, that would support this, then they have no problem with it,” Brecht said.

“If it’s something to be reconsidered then I would invite all the government agencies to please submit at our next meeting, your assessment on whether it’s legally possible or not. Of course, that’s always been a great option, but I was under the impression that, that was off the table, that a government testing facility was off the table,” Terlaje said in response.

Meanwhile, DeNorcey reminded fellow board members that she was given a directive that DPHSS cannot operate a lab for this purpose.

“That has been clarified. We are not a laboratory. We are not going to create a laboratory. We are a public health entity. Our commission and our goal is to do safety and regulation, to ensure that everything is safe. From seed-to-sale. that’s it,” she said.

At the end of the meeting, several concerns were left for the board to address in the next meeting, including the proposal to issue qualifying certificates to private businesses interested in investing in a lab. Another discussion point is the proposal to amend the 3-year residency requirement for investors.

DeNorcey said the cannabis control board is also looking at scheduling a meeting as soon as next week.