Multimedia Todu Guam Articles Legal opinion says MDs can recommend cannabis

Rodriguez asks AGO & USA to issue guidance to Guam doctors

For immediate release, December 11, 2017

Call Joan Aguon at 649-8638 for more info.


(Tamuning, Guam) The federal government can’t take any action against Guam doctors, who recommend to their qualified patients the use of medical cannabis. This recommendation - so long as it isn’t a prescription - is among the most protected of free speech rights, according to the law of the land set by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its decision in Conant v. Walters.


“The Controlled Substance Act prohibits physicians from prescribing Schedule 1 controlled substances, such as marijuana,” summarized Colorado-based attorneys Shawn Hauser and Chloe Grossman from the firm Vicente Sederberg, LLC. “However, applicable law, as affirmed by the 9th Circuit in Conant v. Walters case , allows physicians to recommend the potential use of medical cannabis where the physician does not assist the patient in procuring the cannabis, but merely discusses the potential use of medical marijuana with a patient and recommends the same without prescribing the patient with directions/orders as to how to obtain and use such marijuana.”


Request made to end 

chilling effect on doctors, 

get the law off the ground

The summary comes from an 18-page legal opinion answering Sen. Dennis Rodriguez’s inquiry into the protections doctors on Guam have if they choose to recommend cannabis to their patients, who are qualified under the law. The attorneys who worked on this opinion have extensive experience and background in legal maturity of medical and adult-use cannabis laws passed over the years in the several states and territories. 


The senator asked for the opinion in order to stop the growing fear among Guam doctors that their participation in the medical cannabis program will result in their prosecution by the federal government, or the revoking of their DEA licenses.


Request for Barrett Anderson & 

the acting USA to issue legal guidance

“I was alerted to a case [Conant] that originated in California and provides the answer doctors need to remove that fear and its chilling effect from their ability to write recommendations for cannabis use for their patients,” Sen. Rodriguez wrote in a letter sent last night to the Attorney General of Guam and the U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. That section of the letter goes on to read, “After reading the decision in Conant v Walters, my office sought legal confirmation and further understanding of where doctors stand and what their rights are. We can reason that if they knew they were well within their rights to recommend cannabis for medical purposes to their patients, then the law transforms from a bunch of words on paper, to the regulatory framework of a blooming industry.” 


The senator, who has taken up the de facto role of an elected official trying to carry out the law mandated directly by voters, is asking Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett Anderson and acting U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson to review the Vicente Sederberg opinion and issue guidance to the medical community on Guam.


If neither of you will provide the advice needed to properly inform doctors of their rights - and if no compelling reason can be made to me to the contrary by Legislative Counsel - I am determined to inform doctors of their rights myself.” - Rodriguez to Barrett Anderson and Anderson 


Though much of the business side of the medical cannabis law can’t be implemented until rules and regulations are in place and other measures come into play, the protection granted to medical cannabis qualified patients, their caregivers, and to doctors has been in effect since the law went into effect. The only thing that has held back these residents from participating with this protection is the inability for doctors to know their rights so they can issue recommendations. That recommendation essentially is the evidence a qualified patient needs in order to be free from prosecution under local and federal law.


The Vicente Sederberg opinion covers an extensive discussion on federal law applicable to the Guam mandate on medical cannabis, and will help residents to understand the extent of their rights, including their free speech rights. It is attached for media review and distribution. The senator’s letter to the Guam AG and the acting USA also is attached.


-end of release-