Guam voters prepare for referendum on medicinal marijuana
Voters are preparing to take part in a controversial referendum on legalising medicinal marijuana in Guam. The vote is due to coincide with the November 4th general elections.
Voters are preparing to take part in a controversial referendum on legalising medicinal marijuana in Guam.
The vote is due to coincide with the November 4 general elections.
As Koro Vaka'uta reports there are strong feelings on both sides of the legalisation debate.
The move to legalise medical marijuana was first touted in 2010. Senator Tina Muna-Barnes led the call back then and is the main proponent of a bill legalising the drug now. The Guam senator says having the public vote on whether to legalise medical marijuana is problematic because of a lack of information. Senator Dennis Rodriguez is one of the strongest opponents of the vote. Senator Rodriguez says he understands the compassionate reasonings of those for legalisation but he believes the science is still not fully conclusive about the drug's safety. The Senator also says policy-makers should make the decision, not a possibly uninformed public. The Guam Election Commission is distributing around 50,000 information pamphlets in the lead up to the vote. But Sen. Rodriguez says this is not enough.
DENNIS RODRIGUEZ: The information pamphlet that's being circulated limits the arguments to about 500 words per opposition or as a proponent as this measure. I think, sending it out to the public is really not enough for something as important as this issue.
The Guam Election Commission will post nearly 50,000 information pamphlets on Friday, about the territory's upcoming vote on medical marijuana. In November voters will go to the polls not only to elect their political representatives, but to decide whether the island should allow marijuana for medical use or not. The GEC's Executive Director Maria Pangelinan says in preparation for this, the commission is printing material showcasing both the Senate arguments for and against the move. Ms Pangelinan says no one will have the excuse of being ill-informed.
MARIA PANGELINAN: We're also putting it on our website and we're supposed to also deliver to all three branches of government, to the Mayors' Council of Guam that will have it available in each mayor's office across the island, all 19 offices and we're supposed to deliver it to the library.
Registered voters will also be given an information card with their ballot papers on the day of the vote. But Sen. Muna-Barnes disagrees.
TINA BUNA-BARNES: It's important that our people take the time to look at the latest medical findings that have come out, not just from the United States but from other countries around the world, who have said that the use of medical cannabis, especially with the different categories of the strain of THC have been very, very advantageous.
The Senator is confident that the public will support the move. She says recent surveys show 59-68% behind the legalisation which will allow the use of medical marijuana as an alternative treatment for debilitating health issues.
The Senator led a failed move to do the same thing in 2010.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: