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    Friday, November 16, 2018-6:35:14A.M.






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Guam health official threatens to resign over medicinal marijuana program

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Director James Gillian of the Department of Public Health and Social Services has threatened to resign if lawmakers force his department to oversee the medicinal marijuana program.

“If you insist that this department be mandated to put this program together, you will need another director,” Gillan said during a hearing Tuesday evening on a bill aimed at fast-tracking the rules and regulations needed to operate the program.

James GillianJames Gillian

The bill in question is Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr.’s Bill 210-34 which seeks to speed up the approval of the rules and regulations governing the Joaquin “KC” Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act of 2013. The proposed rules and regulations were compiled by the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Gillan said Public Health “doesn’t have the staff, budget or expertise to make the program work” and such a program won’t be able to pay for itself with the anticipated volume of only 3,000 qualified patients.

“Investing in a cultivation or manufacturing business cannot be profitable with that type of patient volume,” he said.

He said no one has submitted an application for a medicinal cannabis-related business yet.

“Even a dispensary would have difficulty,” Gillan said. He did acknowledge that the provision in Bill 210, which would allow non-residents to participate in the medicinal marijuana program, “perhaps might engender” more businesses’ participation.

“Should you still mandate that Public Health is the proper place for this program,” said Gillan, “I ask that you properly fund it.”

Staffing and equipping a testing laboratory is among the chief obstacles, Gillan said. He estimated that laboratory testing equipment alone would cost $1 million. In addition, he said a microbiologist, a chemist, a quality assurance technician and at least one clerk would be needed to conduct the required testing and ensure the safety of all cannabis products.

“Has the department put together a budget?” asked Rodriguez.

“No,” responded Gillan, “I would hope during the markup we could do that for you, but I’m begging you, don’t give this to us.”