In recent years, the legalization of marijuana in America has been moving at a whirlwind pace. As of 2016, medical marijuana became legal in 29 states and Washington D.C., while recreational use is now legal in nine states and Washington D.C. In 2014, Guam became the first U.S. territory to legalize medical marijuana. Despite the enactment of rules and regulations, however, the medical marijuana program remains at a standstill due to the lack of an independent testing lab.
Just the same, advocates for recreational marijuana — including Gov. Eddie Calvo — say it is high time Guam consider growing the pot industry by putting it in the same category as tobacco and alcohol.
As the political pot begins to boil, we asked the gubernatorial candidates where they stand on recreational marijuana.
Following are their responses
Ray Tenorio (R)
Running mate: Tony Ada
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in one form or another. Eight states and the District of Columbia legalized marijuana for recreational use. National policy may be on a trajectory to legalize marijuana after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer introduced legislation in April 2018 to decriminalize marijuana.
Like medical marijuana, this is an issue the people of Guam may want to vote on directly. As a former law enforcement officer, I have reservations about drugs in general. While there may be potential upsides to legalizing recreational marijuana, debatably in the areas of tourism and new government revenues, it must be measured carefully against public safety and potential social issues that may arise.
Lou Leon Guerrero (D)
Running mate: Joshua Tenorio
We support the legal adult use of marijuana. More Americans than ever acknowledge that marijuana can be used responsibly by being informed. Regulated adult use of marijuana will allow our schools, roads, law enforcement and our hospital to benefit from new tax dollars—taxes that won’t raise the price of goods on our families.
We understand that other drugs have a deeper effect, destroying individual lives and families. We remain committed to addressing that situation with increased coordination between local and federal law enforcement agencies and increasing interdiction efforts at our borders.
Frank Aguon (D)
Running mate: Alicia Limtiaco
Guam continues to face challenges regarding the full implementation of the medical marijuana program, including the lack of an independent testing laboratory and questions related to the promulgated rules and regulations (e.g., are other laws or amendments to other parts of our laws needed including those related to our criminal code?). We must address these issues first and foremost, and it is paramount that the public health and safety of our community are met with the full implementation of a legalized medical marijuana program.
We must take a cautious approach to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. As a community, we must first endeavor to understand all aspects, both positive and negative ramifications of implementing such a policy. We must ensure the maximum benefit and safeguard of our community while at the same time mitigating possible negative outcomes.
Dennis Rodriguez (D)
Running mate: Dave Cruz
I am not in favor of recreational marijuana being commercially available. I believe legalization will inevitably attract powerful for-profit forces, and chief among my concern is that there are very powerful forces of greed and profit. I also have concerns about the safety concerns surrounding the use of marijuana. Due to its Schedule 1 designation, only very limited clinical studies on it use have been conducted.
Only now is the law loosening to allow for more clinical research studies to be conducted. I believe that Guam, with its unique status, could be a leader in this research by reaching out to “big pharma” to set up a lab here on Guam. We have the perfect climate and a business-friendly environment. We are far away from the mainland and yes with have plants here.
My staff and I are already looking into this potential and are optimistic that not only can we be successful in establishing our medicinal marijuana laboratory but also use this laboratory to further research into the possible potential marijuana may provide to the world.
Carl Gutierrez (D)
Running mate: Fred Bordallo
It took more than 17 years in Honolulu, Hawaii, to follow through with their medical marijuana programs after their community mandated the legalization, and the Gutierrez Bordallo team do not want our people to go through the same suffering.
We would work with California-based private company, “Steep Hill” or another organization like theirs to assist DPHSS and the Government of Guam. By applying their expertise to create a certified lab for cannabis testing, like what they did with the Department of Health in the state of Hawaii, it would move the process along faster and with less concerns along the way. The allowance of a private company for lab testing opens more options for medicinal users who decline to smoke but want other methods to take the cannabis medicine such as through edible pill forms.
Our team feels that if we walk before we run, and create airtight legislation and procedure, we will have more opportunities to consider things like home cultivation, and recreational use. Marijuana is undoubtedly an economic blessing is some areas of the United States. We feel strongly that with proper handling and processes in place for medical use of the drug, the people of Guam will be better prepared to decide on the expansion of legislation to include recreational use.