Luis P. Villagomez, a 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran, is afflicted by many illnesses -- and has to take various medications for each.
He's searching for that one thing that can kill his pain and increase his appetite.
Medical marijuana seems to fit the bill, he said.
Villagomez is hoping the Legislature will seriously look at "The Compassionate Health Care Act of 2010," or Bill 423, which he said will help many people who are living with pain and anger problems.
The veteran, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, arthritis, prostate cancer, liver problems, and joint and back pains -- to name a few of his illnesses -- said he's willing to pay for medicinal marijuana, which he has found calms him, eases his pains and ups his appetite.
"If I smoke weed, it eases all the pain, and I have a good attitude to my family," he said. "When I'm taking the medicine from doctors, I don't want to hear from anyone."
The bill was introduced by Sen. Rory Respicio earlier this month to regulate the recommending and certifying of medicinal marijuana by a licensed physician. The measure also proposes establishing "compassionate health-care centers" that will grow, process and dispense cannabis by prescription only, Pacific Daily News files state.
Respicio said the bill isn't aimed at legalizing marijuana because Guam cannot legalize marijuana. He said this is because the drug is identified as a controlled substance by the federal government, and only it can legalize marijuana.
"You have many individuals in his instance who run the risk of being prosecuted for trying to do something that would be so basic, in terms of meeting their health care needs," Respicio said of Luis Villagomez's use of marijuana to ease his pain.
Luis Villagomez said before he realized marijuana helped him, he was at the point of committing suicide because he was tired of the anxiety and the stress from not being able to sleep.
"It's because of memories from the war and I'm scared and I holler," he said.
Luis Villagomez said he no longer sleeps in the same bed as his wife, Virginia, because of fears he will harm her.
"There are some people who need to have this for medicinal purposes. Let them get the physicians and let the doctors approve it," he said. "Let's do it right and don't play games."
Respicio's bill is aimed at helping people suffering from debilitating, chronic and painful illnesses and conditions. It would allow licensed physicians to recommend and prescribe medicinal marijuana to patients. However, those patients would have to register with the Department of Public Health and Social Services, and be certified as having a debilitating medical condition, the bill noted.
"That's exactly why we need to do this for him and many others in his situation," Respicio said. "We need to personalize the whole-cannabis-for-medicinal-purposes use. To personalize it shows that there are real people who would benefit tremendously if this bill became law."
Respicio said nationwide, there are 27 states that decriminalize cannabis or allow the use of medical marijuana. He said locally, lawmakers would need to follow what is being done nationally -- if they decide to make this bill law.
"I think the biggest opposition to this concept is not any organized movement other than fear," Respicio said adding that he's not an advocate for recreational use of marijuana. "I think we would have a chance to have this implemented here on Guam if people can be assured that it would be tightly controlled and that it would be made available only for medical purposes and for nothing else."
Respicio said having doctors to certify those patients in need of marijuana, and having compassionate care centers filling the prescription are some of the ways to ensure the drug isn't misused.
Dr. Chris Dombrowski, a general practitioner, said there are no textbook types of patients who are going to benefit from medicinal marijuana.
He said he would use medicinal marijuana the same way he uses Xanax or Valium -- for anxiety and stress, muscle-tension headaches, insomnia and some types of muscle pains.
"If it works for them, sure," he said about the medicinal use of marijuana.
• BY LAURA MATTHEWS
• PACIFIC DAILY NEWS
• JUNE 28, 2010