Guam Governor Crafting Legal Marijuana Legislation

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Less than a month after making headlines by suddenly endorsing marijuana legalization, the Republican governor of Guam is now actively writing legislation to end cannabis prohibition in the U.S. territory.

In a Facebook post late last week, Gov. Eddie Calvo shared a screenshot of the draft legislation:

Guan cannabis legalization legislation

“In the interest of promoting the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenue for public purposes and enhancing individual freedom, the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and the production and sale of marijuana should be regulated for taxation purposes,” the bill begins.

In a separate Facebook post in December, Calvo turned heads by saying, “I want us to look at how states navigated into recreational marijuana; Let’s figure it out and then tax the heck out of it and use those taxes to help fund our hospital, public safety and education.”

The governor’s call for ending prohibition was particularly surprising because it came just days after he vetoed legislation to allow patients on the island territory of roughly 160,000 people to grow medical marijuana at home, saying that the measure would “impose new and different duties upon our health and law enforcement agencies that will deplete their already strained resources.”

Guam voters approved a medical cannabis initiative in 2014, but it hasn’t yet been implemented as lawmakers have squabbled over the particulars of regulations.

Calvo advisor Troy Torres told local media that his boss’s legalization bill is now in its second draft and would likely be released to the public as soon as this week. He said that the regulatory system is similar to Colorado’s and that excise taxes on recreational marijuana, which would not apply to medical cannabis, would primarily go toward funding the Guam Memorial Hospital.

One remaining open question is what the legal age for using marijuana will be.

“One of the big debates that is happening is whether the legalized age for consumption is 21, should be 21 or should be 18 and some people are coming back and saying it should be 25, so that’s something that’s a work in progress so if people have comments on that, let us know very soon,” Torres said.

The governor’s office has requested the interested parties submit feedback via Facebook.

Guam isn’t the only U.S. territory where legalization could become a reality soon. Roughly 135 miles away by plane flight, lawmakers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are pushing to end cannabis prohibition.

And, former Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla called for legalization last year and issued an executive order last month to end drug testing for marijuana to public sector employees. But new Gov. Ricky Rosselló, who took office last week, says that while he backs medical cannabis he isn’t yet ready to support full legalization.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

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