- By Bruce Lloyd
Recreational pot now legal on Guam
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed a bill making recreational pot legal on Guam.
“I have the decided to sign the bill into law. My decision was made with open,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said at a press conference in Adelup, where she announced the signing of Bill 32-35, which had sparked a heated community debate.
“At the end of the day, I have to answer this question,” said the governor, who openly supported recreational marijuana during her election campaign.
Guam joins the list of jurisdictions-- nine states and the CNMI-- where recreational marijuana is legal. In 2014, Guam voters approved medical use of marijuana but the program is hampered by a lack of a testing lab.
The Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019, now Public Law 35-5, legalizes adult use of marijuana by individuals 21 years and older.
“Nothing changes in the policies at the workplace. As a responsible business, we must continue the zero-tolerance policy,” Leon Guerrero said.
The next step is to “educate the people” and “make them aware of what we can and what we cannot do,” the governor said. “It is very clear that we cannot use it in public places.”
Senators passed Bill 32-35 on an 8-7 vote on March 27. The split vote in legislature reflected the community’s polarity on recreational marijuana.
“This has been and continues to be a community issue, but the fight is not over yet,” said freshman Sen. Clynt Ridgell, author of Bill 32-35. “My colleagues and I spent a lot of time discussing this bill, and although we may have differing opinions on the matter, I am grateful that this was an issue that was taken very seriously.”
Ridgell urged the community to provide input in the development of the rules and regulation that will be drafted by the yet-to-be formed Cannabis Control Board.
“My colleagues and I worked very hard to keep the public engaged in this process, and before introducing the bill, I made sure to consult with various members of our community who provided informed and educated feedback as well as constructive input for drafting this bill,” Ridgell said.
The Archdiocese of Agana opposes recreational marijuana, saying Guam is “already riddled with a drug problem of epidemic magnitude.”
“Marijuana, like many drugs, is an addictive substance. Users are attracted to the pleasure and relaxation that cannabis produces,” the Archdiocese said in a press statement last week. “Taking pot for recreational purposes is often a way for individuals to escape the burdens, worries and responsibilities that they may encounter in life. However, the sense of peace that drug abuse and reliance on illicit substances offer is illusory. It is a false solution that only creates more problems for individuals ... and the people that surround them.”
Bill 32-35 was co-sponsored By, Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, Senators Joe S. San Agustin, Régine Biscoe Lee, Telo T. Taitague, and Jose “Pedo” Terlaje.
“I also want to acknowledge that this could not have happened without the support and assistance of cannabis advocacy groups like Grassroots Guam, Guam Legal Movement, and Guam Legal Bud who have worked tirelessly over the last few years to educate the public about cannabis,” Ridgell said. “And of course, this could not have happened without the support of the people of Guam who elected me into office on a platform to Make Guam Green Again.”