Weed industry still facing legal knots
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The Office of the Attorney General is seeking to iron out more legal creases to ensure smooth operation of the emerging marijuana industry on Guam as the Cannabis Control Board prepares for the commercial license processing period.
“Whether we support or oppose it, cannabis is now legal in Guam,” Attorney General Leevin Camacho said. “With the launch of the application period in just two months, our government needs to be better prepared to support new businesses and collect revenue while also combating illegal activity and protecting consumers, especially our children."
The cannabis license application period will open on Aug. 29.
The OAG said other jurisdictions and communities are tracking Guam’s progress following the effectivity of the Cannabis Control Board rules and regulations.
While a majority of U.S. jurisdictions have legalized weed in some form -- either for medicinal or recreational use, or both-- marijuana is still a Schedule I substance under federal law. Schedule I lists drugs or other substances that have a high potential for abuse.
Due to clashing federal and state laws, several financial institutions remain reluctant to conduct business with cannabis-related businesses, leaving pot dispensers no other option but to operate on a cash-only basis.
Last month, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) sought to put pressure on the U.S. Congress to expedite the passage of the SAFE Banking Act, which would legally facilitate banking services for the cannabis industry.
"Passage of the bi-partisan SAFE Banking Act would reduce the risk associated with large cash-and-carry operations and increase public safety. Enacting the SAFE Banking Act would also support economic development in states that have legalized cannabis, while enhancing safety for industry employees and the public alike," James M. Cooper, president and CEO of CSBS, said in a May 25 letter to U.S. senators.
"Tax collection, consumers and the financial system will remain at risk until financial institutions can serve the industry without concern of violating federal law. Clarity between state and federal law is needed to allow state-compliant cannabis businesses to access financial services without the risk of federal penalty," Cooper said.
On Guam, Camacho said he is working with the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) Cannabis Project to host a roundtable with experts in cannabis regulations to discuss common issues faced by jurisdictions during the launch of their cannabis industries. Last week, Camacho moderated a panel of cannabis experts who discussed new policy debates in the cannabis industry such as Delta-8 THC, social equity movements, and the status of changes to federal law that will impact the industry.
The panel was hosted by the AGA, a bipartisan group that includes 46 states and territories. “Many of Guam’s concerns and issues are shared by other jurisdictions, including in areas of banking, vertical integration and inventory tracking,” Camacho said. “As attorney general, you have to be a problem solver, and this roundtable is a part of our continued efforts to help identify possible solutions to these issues.” The roundtable has tentatively been set for July 8.