Guam – As lawmakers mull a bill that would give voters the power to legalize medical marijuana, Attorney General Lenny Rapadas expresses concern over the abuse that will surely follow, especially among minors. It’s one issue, Rapadas says, attorneys general in other jurisdictions are facing.
Bill 215, or the Joaqin Concepcion Compassionate Cannabis Use Act of 2013, is just steps away from potentially finding a spot in the next general election. While its medical and health effects have been widely debated on island, another aspect that has not received as much attention is in its law enforcement. Attorney General Lenny Rapadas explains.
“There are certain things that I’m concerned about and that’s the abuse by children and just the increase of another substance out there that’ll cause harm to the community,” says Rapadas.
The bill was up for discussion in this month’s session. If passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, it will be a binding referendum in the next election where residents can vote it into law.
“We’re just gonna have to understand that as a citizens that if medical marijuana does become law, if the people vote for it they also have to understand that there’s gonna be an abuse, there will be abuse, whether they like it or not. So that’s something people are gonna have to decide for themselves,” he warns.
The attorney general says he’s had discussions with attorneys general in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal both for medicinal use and recreational purposes and the results aren’t good in terms of abuse.
“Unfortunately what is being seen in those states is that kids are getting more and more access to medical marijuana and just marijuana,” he says.
The bill, introduced by Senator Tina Muna Barnes, would authorize a qualified patient or their qualified caregiver to possess an adequate supply of cannabis to alleviate symptoms of a debilitating medical condition.
“And frankly, as law enforcement, I don’t wanna see minors, I don’t wanna see a 3, 4, 5 year olds ingesting edibles, marijuana laced cookies, brownies because those are things that follow when these sorts of things are legalized,” he says. “There are numerous cases of minors, kids, 4 year-olds being hospitalized because they ate a brownie that [were] laced with marijuana and was intended for medical use.”
AG Rapadas emphasizes how the child abuse aspect of the bill will affect his office, especially with the drug’s notoriety on this island.
“Those are te things that I don’t wanna see happen and will that increase my case load? Obviously. I believe it will,” he points out.
As of this afternoon, the bill was still in the 3rd reading file.