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Sen. Dennis Rodriguez wants to inform doctors that federal law protects their professional right to write their patients certifications that say cannabis can be a better alternative for the therapy they require. Before doing this, he is asking for a legal opinion from the Center for Responsible Cannabis Regulation about Conant v. Walters and what this circuit court ruling means for Guam doctors.
Conant v. Walters is a California case eventually ruled on by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Guam falls under this circuit) that asserts that doctors who write certifications to patients seeking legal medical use of cannabis cannot be charged or even investigated by the federal government without there being evidence that a doctor is involved with illicit drug activity.
Guam doctors are not issuing certifications to patients who qualify for access to cannabis, even though the law currently allows for doctors to issue these certifications now. Some doctors have said that although local law grants them immunity from adverse action, federal law still would suggest that doctors who issue certifications would be guilty of drug crimes and conspiracy.
"These certifications are at the heart of this law that our people overwhelmingly approved," Sen. Rodriguez said. "Someone needs to clarify what the law really says for doctors, because patients are waiting and some are suffering. Doctors shouldn't be living in a climate of fear and conducting their practices afraid to give the best advice possible to their patients."
The senator's letter follow for easy reference.
Ms. Chloe Grossman 
Deputy Director Council on Responsible Cannabis Regulation 
Via email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
Dear Deputy Director Grossman: 
Håfa Adai! I hope to get your legal opinion on the ability of locally-licensed doctors to issue certifications (within the context of the medical cannabis law) without fear of adverse action by the federal government. 
Patients with painful and debilitating diseases are waiting for their doctors to provide a certification giving the opinion that such patient can benefit from cannabis use. This certification is precisely what a patient needs in order to possess certain amounts of cannabis at a given time without fear of losing their freedom. The problem is that no authority within the government of Guam has informed local doctors whether they can begin issuing such certifications. 
It is clear by the writing of the statute that doctors may write these certifications to their patients. The law also clearly provides immunity to doctors from prosecution for recommending or approving medical cannabis (§122504(f) 10GCA Article 25 of Part 2, Chapter 12 of Division 1). While doctors on Guam may not dispute that local statute protects their medical license from adverse action at the hands of any local authority, including the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, which issues licenses, there is an overriding concern. That is, since cannabis still is scheduled as an illegal narcotic by the federal government, does the local law’s immunity also extend insofar as to protect doctors from losing their practice in the event of a federal investigation into such doctor’s practice of issuing written certifications.
 In reading case law on this very matter, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its 2002 decision in Conant v. Walter ruled that the first test in determining whether the federal government should leave doctors alone is if they wrote certifications in a jurisdiction that does so provide local immunity to them. The Guam law does just that. Conant v. Walters then goes on to state that both the plaintiffs and the government defendants agreed that federal law is clear that doctors would be guilty of conspiracy to distribute narcotics if they - with intention - helped a patient to break the law. That is, to procure a scheduled narcotic. A doctor who, therefore, prescribes cannabis and a pharmacy that dispenses such a prescription, would no doubt be guilty of such crimes under federal law. However, the ruling makes it abundantly clear that the mere opinion a doctor gives on a piece of paper written to his patient that his patient might be better served with cannabis  cannot be held against the doctor. The reasoning is two fold. 
First, that doctor’s opinion does not directly and automatically lead to a patient procuring medical cannabis under the local statute. A certification, unlike a prescription, does not dictate medical necessity and very well and likely will be ignored by patients who do not want to use cannabis as a replacement or enhancement to other therapy. 
There is no way, unless it is specifically written by the doctor that the patient should go immediately to a dispensary and purchase cannabis under the local law, that the doctor directly helped the patient to receive a scheduled narcotic. He did not conspire with the patient. There was no criminal intent. Secondly, and what dominates the ruling and its reasoning, is that a doctor’s opinion to his patient is part of the most protected of free speech rights - that of professional free speech. It should be reprehensible to us as citizens to allow the government to create a chilling effect among doctors, whereby fear of the loss of liberty or property overtakes such as sacred institution as the free speech right of a doctor to dispense sound and private medical advice to his patient.
 I fear such a chilling effect has taken hold among the medical community already. But it’s not too late to reverse this fear. I’m hoping you can give me the legal guidance I need in order to stand on solid legal footing and inform doctors of their rights and protections under the local statute and in the federal government by way of case law. Please look into this matter and respond soonest. Thank you very much for your assistance. Please contact me at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  should you have any questions or need for more information. Si Yu’os Ma’åse’! Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr.
Sen. Dennis Rodriguez has offered a compromise to the Governor's hospital modernization proposal that will accomplish Gov. Eddie Calvo's vision without raising taxes: end the industry exemptions on payment of the gross receipts tax. It is anticipated that the amount of money that will be generated when certain industries begin paying their fair share of taxes is similar to the amount that would be raised if the GRT was raised to 4.75%.
"The biggest criticism to raising the GRT when the governor's bill was first introduced came from people asking, 'Why should I pay more taxes when a whole bunch of companies don't pay any taxes?'" Sen. Rodriguez said. "It is a good point, and we can't ignore it. Before we even put a tax increase in front of the legislature or the voters, the legislature can instead level the field for taxpayers. If we need for the taxpayers to modernize GMH - and we do - then we're going to call on the businesses that have been getting a break to share in the responsibility. Corporations shouldn't get a pass."
Sen. Rodriguez's office and the Governor's fiscal team will be collaborating over the next week to produce new legislation that will authorize the overhaul and modernization of the hospital - language that should be identical to the bill the Governor introduced. Legislation that will be different is about the funding source for the repayment of any bonds that will be floated to pay for the modernization upfront. This language will swap out a GRT increase with the closure of exemptions on mature industries (critical exemptions for cottage or budding industries of small businesses will remain under this proposal).
"I agree with Governor Calvo's deep concern for modernizing GMH sooner than later," Sen. Rodriguez said. "There's no doubt, this needs to happen. We just needed a funding source that our people will accept and that will likely garner the support of more senators. Once this new bill is ready, it will be introduced, I will push for hearings, and I will help the hospital to get this done."
This is a developing story.
RELATED TO THIS INFORMATION: GMH modernization is critical to the future of medical care on this island. The other critical component is access to affordable and quality medical coverage. The Legislature recently passed and the governor signed into law one of the few state-driven employer mandated health insurance laws in the country. Sen. Rodriguez believes the government cannot stop halfway and must complete the passage of policy critical to the future of medical care on Guam by authorizing the modernization package.



Tamuning, Guam.  Tourism Committee Chairman, Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., has called for a Roundtable Meeting on Friday, October 20, 2017, 1:00pm at the Guam Congress Building to discuss the state of affairs in tourism and the potential impacts a shift in projections for the remainder of 2017 and 2018 may have.


President and CEO of the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), Mr. Nathan Denight, his management team and Board of Directors have been invited to present the status of visitor arrivals to Guam, the efforts proposed in mitigating the decline in visitor arrivals, and to provide an update on all markets among the matters to be discussed.


Senator Rodriguez has also invited the agency heads of the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport (GIAA), the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA), the Bureau of Budget and Management Research (BBMR), the Department of Revenue and Taxation (DRT), the government’s Chief Economist, the President of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA), and other stakeholders to actively participate at the October 20th roundtable meeting.


“We need to bring all our minds and efforts together to address recent developments in our number one industry.  We ought to move quickly to devise an economic assistance plan that takes into consideration the current environment and provide strategies to help our local businesses, our workforce, our government, and our people weather this out on both a short and long term basis,”  according to Senator Rodriguez.


“The eventualities of a softer tourism outlook as previously projected needs to be understood by all and, by calling all our leaders and experts in the field is a first step toward working on a unified front to minimize any negative impacts to our people,” Rodriguez added.


All interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend the October 20th meeting to provide input on this important matter.  The Committee on Tourism expects to hold follow up meetings to ensure all efforts are transparent and followed through.  Follow up meeting dates will be announced at a later time.


For more information, contact the Office of Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr. at 649-8638.



Hafa Adai people of Guam!

Todu Guam is preparing for the 6th Annual Hall of Fame & Married Couple Recognition Program Induction.  

Please take some time and nominate your favorite Manamko' or Married Couple for the 2017 Honors!

Here are the forms:

Guam Senior Citizen Hall of Fame Nomination Form

Married Couple Recognition Nomination Form

Here is a direct link to the poster for a convenient full screen look! 

Deadline to submit your nomination is Friday, October 6, 2017.

For more information, please contact our office at 649-8638/0511.

Si Yu'os Ma'ase'!

Legislative Chairman on the Committee on Health Senator Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr., announces several actions to improve the Guam healthcare system. A series of bills that address the chronic shortage of primary care providers, lack of access to our providers due to lack of insurance coverage and our ability to take advantage of future innovations were introduced Friday, June 23, 2017.  

First, a new approach in delivering government sponsored health plan. Bill 133-34  The “MAÑAINA YAN MAÑE’LU ISLAND COMMUNITY HEALTH PLAN OF 2017 will replace the Medically Indigent Program.  The program consists of three parts: Mañelu, Mañelu Plus and Mañaina care.  Government will no longer solely manage this program, but will enter into a public private partnership with local insurance companies to manage the care provided. The Mañelu plan is similar to the current plan and will cover patients meeting the 100% Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Mañelu Plus allows the FSM governments to contribute their Compact funds if so desired to increase eligibility up to 200% and finally Mañaina Care focuses on those benefits specifically needed for our elderly population. 

The companion bill addresses the Medicaid population through a pilot project that will expand eligibility from 108% FPL to 200% FPL. Bill 132-34, which will be known as “The HealthCare Para Todu Plan”. Unique in this approach is the funding in which Guam will access monies set aside by the Federal government pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.  Guam was not allowed to fully participate in ACA but was given an allocation to use. Using these funds in collaboration with an employer sponsored plan, Government of Guam contribution and an employee contribution spreads the cost among many and thus lessens the burden and puts insurance coverage within reach of approximately 16,000 residents. 

Bill 131-34, establishes safeguards in statue that would ensure health dollars are accurately used on claims and expenses that improve the quality of health care. In addition provides for a system of checks and balances to protect our people from any unnecessary increase in their health insurance premiums.   

To address the chronic shortage of providers a set of seven bills was also introduced today. Bill’s 127-34 through Bill 130-34addresses partnering with military providers and giving them a pathway to volunteer in the community.

 Bill 126-34 adds another category of provider to the primary care team called “assistant physician”. This position will create a pathway for medical school graduates that have not yet been matched to a residency to serve under local physicians under a collaborative practice agreement. 

Bill 125-34 addresses our relationship with foreign and domestic physicians not licensed on Guam. This bill puts in place a temporary permit that allows these professionals to work side by side with our local professionals for a limited time and for a specific purpose. 

Finally, Bill 124-34 will allow Guam to join 18 other states in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This “behind the scenes” legislation makes it easier for physicians to obtain licenses to practice in multiple states. By joining this compact it increases the possibility of physicians coming to Guam and also may be incentive for military physicians to partner with our local physicians during their stay on Guam.