Pubdate: Sun, 11 May 2014
Source: Pacific Daily News (US GU)
Copyright: 2014 Pacific Daily News
Author: Dance Aoki


Judy and John Terlaje are running out of options for their son who 
has epilepsy.

"Through the years, we've probably spent $10,000 in medical bills," 
Judy Terlaje said. "That's how often he was at the ER."

The couple spoke during the University of Guam Medical Marijuana 
Forum yesterday at the Jesus and Eugenia Leon Guerrero School of 
Business and Public Adminstration building.

Students gasped to hear of the years of hospital visits, the 
financial cost and the impact 11 medications had on 8-year-old Dylan 
Terlaje since he was 3 months old.

The Terlajes joined a panel to answer questions from students about 
the possibility of legalizing medical marijuana on Guam.

Sen. Aline Yamashita, R-Tamuning, another panelist, said she 
disagreed with the Guam Election Commission's decision keep the 
question of legalizing medicinal marijuana off the General Election 
ballot in November. "I believe it is our right to ask you what you 
think should happen," Yamashita said.

Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, D-Mangilao, and Yamashita co-authored Bill 
215, which the governor allowed to lapse into law.

The measure required the Election Commission to ask voters if the 
Joaquin "KC" Concepcion Cannabis Act of 2013 should be law, but in 
March the commission adopted its legal counsel's opinion that placing 
the question on the ballot isn't allowed under Guam's Organic Act.

Last month, the Legislature passed Resolution 358, which seeks a 
declaratory judgment from the Guam Supreme Court over the 
Legislature's ability to use a legislative submission to direct the 
commission to place the measure on the ballot; it recently contracted 
an attorney to pursue the judgment. In order for a measure to get on 
the ballot it must be certified no later than Aug. 6, 90 days before 
the General Election on Nov. 4, according to Guam law.

Paradox of laws

Students wrote questions for the panelists on note cards for 
moderator Jesse Quenga to read.

District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood answered 
the question: "Is there a conflict between a local law regarding 
medical marijuana and existing federal law?"

"The legal status of medical marijuana is a paradox," she said. "It's 
absolutely prohibited under federal law, there's no medical marijuana 
law here, but it's authorized in 42 percent of the states."

Tydingco-Gatewood said there is essentially no conflict, since the 
federal government is leaving regulation of marijuana to local law 
enforcement agencies.

John Gorman, the federal public defender who also was on the panel, 
said the federal government "is watching vigilantly from the sidelines."

"Realistically, the feds are waiting to see how this works in 
different jurisdictions," Gorman said.

Frederick Black, an assistant U.S. attorney, said the federal 
government is responsible for enforcing all federal laws; but federal 
law enforcement is prioritizing terrorism and violent crimes related 
to methamphetamines.

Dr. John Ray Taitano, president of the Guam Medical Society and a 
member of the American Medical Association, said the association 
believes medicinal uses of cannabis need to be researched.

"Effective patient care requires free and unfettered exchange of 
information on treatment," he said, "and should not subject any party 
to criminal procedures."

A student asked if doctors will risk being charged with malpractice 
if they prescribe cannabis.

"That's an individual choice of the physician," Taitano said. "They 
open themselves up to liability and criminal prosecution, because the 
feds can trump (a local law), so physicians are gun shy about 
licensing cannabis for medicinal use."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom