Business groups continue to oppose cannabis in Tumon

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Baldyga Group CEO and Chairman Mark Baldyga told PNC News that the push to appeal to cannabis travelers comes from a misunderstanding of the markets that support Guam.

Major players in Guam’s business community continue to forcefully oppose the idea of a cannabis industry based in Tumon.

Although a recent economic impact study projected more than $64 million of revenue in the first year of cannabis legalization, many in the island’s business community have voiced opposition to the industry.

For the most part, they opposed starting cannabis businesses in Tumon.

Several organizations such as GVB, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, and the Guam Contractors Association submitted testimony to that effect.

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The Baldyga Group — parent company of the Sandcastle, TaoTao Tasi, and other local attractions — also submitted testimony.

Baldyga Group CEO and Chairman Mark Baldyga told PNC News that the push to appeal to cannabis travelers comes from a misunderstanding of the markets that support Guam.

“There are really big cultural differences and sensitivities between Japanese and Koreans and Westerners. So comparing us to Amsterdam, we don’t have that tourism base. Our tourists are Japanese and Korean. In Japan, smoking cannabis..you know in America, 40 percent of Americans have tried cannabis. In Japan, only 1.2 percent. It’s just a different culture. In Korea, if you smoke pot overseas and you come home or use cannabis and come home, you’re arrested on return. Their laws say we don’t want Korean citizens using drugs anywhere,” Baldyga said.

Baldyga — as well as many other organizations — say they don’t oppose cannabis outright. But they think it’s a bad mix with Guam’s established tourism markets.

“I think we have to be very careful about what we do. I don’t know that it’s necessarily bad, it just can’t be pushed in the face of our family tourists who already exist. I’m just strongly opposed to open smoking on public beaches and sidewalks and so forth. I don’t mind and in fact support … I think it’s a good idea..to potentially create a district or a zone and actually move strip clubs and massage parlors and other things out of Tumon as well. That would really open things up so we could really go after two different markets,” Baldyga said.

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