The new law regulates the use, sale, and production of adult-use marijuana on the Western Pacific U.S. island.
Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Thursday signed into law the Cannabis Industry Act to legalize the use, sale, and production of recreational marijuana. The law took effect immediately.
“I have to answer this one question: Given all the info, studies done, experiences shared, advice [and] anecdotes about marijuana, what would a responsible community government leader do to protect the interests and welfare of the community?” Guerrero said during a press conference.
The new law, Bill No. 32-35, allows adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana flower or up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis, and grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use.
Eventually, the Western Pacific U.S. island will have a regulated cannabis market to serve its estimated population of 165,000 people. Cannabis growing facilities will be required to pay an excise tax of 15 percent that will go toward law enforcement and drug treatment programs.
The law also creates a nine-member regulatory board called the Cannabis Control Board that’s tasked with overseeing the new industry, including testing, manufacturing, licensing, packaging, and production. The board has a year to draft regulations, which then must be approved by lawmakers.
Decision to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
A week prior to signing the bill, Guerrero met with both advocates and opponents of legalizing recreational marijuana, including doctors, nurses, lawyers, social workers, law enforcement agents, religious leaders, senators, parents, and the youth. In the end, she felt legalizing it was best.
“We must regulate this illicit drug that is the most widely used in our society,” said Guerrero. “We have to take it and control it, monitor its use and effects, benefit from its medical efforts.”
“Keeping it illegal in my mind rejects the notion that it exists and that the underground market will continue to prey on us. We have to be ahead of this and we have to control it,” she added.
Guam legalized adult use marijuana through its legislature. The Cannabis Industry Act narrowly passed the Guam Legislature on March 27 with a vote of 8-7.
Guerrero predicted that the U.S. government would follow shortly and legalize marijuana at a national level.
“I think the federal government will make it legal … there are 32 states that have medicinal cannabis. Ten states have adult-use cannabis. That’s the trend,” Guerrero said. “I think the writing on the wall is there.”
Guam’s previous governor, Eddie Calvo, had pushed for legalizing recreational marijuana, but was never able to find common ground with the Legislature. The territory had approved medical marijuana in 2014, however the regulated system never really got off the ground.
Another U.S. territory, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, legalized recreational marijuana last year. The U.S. Virgin Islands adopted a medical marijuana law in January.
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