The governor's office sent back the bill with his signature Tuesday (13/1/18) to the Legislature.
Gov. Eddie Calvo has signed a bill that approved rules and regulations for the island’s medical marijuana program.
The governor’s office sent back the bill with his signature Tuesday to the Legislature.
The bill, now Public Law 34-80, was passed 14 to 1 by senators last month and adopts the rules and regulations and also opened up the program to visitors in hopes of making it more financially viable.
The law comes after years of trying to get rules and regulations approved.
The island’s voters in the 2014 election approved the medical marijuana program, but it’s been stalled because a lack of rules and regulations.
The former Department of Public Health and Social Services director James Gillan resigned earlier this month because he said the program was imposed on the department without funding and resources.
Earlier this month he said even if the bill became law, it could still take time to get the program off the ground because it requires an independent testing laboratory which could cost $1 million.
He said medical marijuana should be treated as a medicine that requires extensive testing to make sure it is safe and free of pesticides, heavy metals, mold and fungus.
Although the program isn’t operating yet, some patients have been issued cards that will allow them to participate.
Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, Jr., D-Dededo, introduced the bill in November after Public Health had to rewrite them after lawmakers rejected an earlier set of rules.
With respect to the testing lab, Rodriguez has said there has not been much interest in creating one, but said he believes that’s because there are no rules and regulations.
With rules in place, he said, he is very confident there will be interest in setting up a lab here.
Public Health, in drafting the new rules, stated that the laboratory is the main stumbling block to implementing the program because of the high cost of operating a lab, with a limited pool of eligible participants on island.
Rodriguez said his bill would allow visitors to participate in the medical marijuana program, and more potential participants could encourage investors and make the program more affordable.
By Jerick Sabian – Pacific Daily News
Photo Credit – Nick Oza – Arizona Republic