Guam – Light it up? Well, it depends on who you ask, as legislation to legalize the “recreational adult use of marijuana” becomes a hot topic sparked by Senator Clynt Ridgell’s first piece of legislation The Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019. Today, PNC took the cannabis conversation to the streets.
A resident of Guam for 13 years, Clayton Wolfe tells PNC, “I’m absolutely in support of Clynt’s bill and I think it definitely needs to go through.”
When asked how he believes the bill would stimulate the economy, Wolfe says “I know there are definitely better case studies out there that we can look at and really find a positive way to start bringing in some real money into this island. And you know I mean look, we have budget shortfalls all the time. You see it in the news all the time.”
Wolfe continues, “So we need to start thinking about different ways of bringing in money into this island. And you know this is a fantastic way to do that. And that’s one of the reasons why I really, truly support this bill.”
In hopes of creating a new industry, new revenues and new jobs for island residents, the freshmen Senator cites the local economists who he says have “forecast the coming year to be one of stagnant economic growth. The cannabis industry is the proverbial shot in the arm that will stimulate our stagnant economy.”
Another resident Anthony Casinetta offers some examples of how such a potential economic gold mine could benefit the community.
“I think it will be a good thing for the government of Guam, especially if you can legalize recreational and tax it. The government can get more money for fixing roads, public places, do bathrooms, parks for the kids, you know. More street lights and I think it could overall help and benefit Guam in tourism. All kinds of different industries I think.”
Casinetta then shares how such a law could aid local law enforcement. “I think it will help decrease crime in a way, as in you know, you got your little local drug dealers and if it’s legalized you’d have dispensaries who are controlling the whole program. It kind of puts them, in a sense out of business.”
Is it a green light from residents? Perhaps not, with a social media post sharing concern of possible negative consequences.
“Is more money going to save us from a monster typhoon? Look at Saipan and see what happened to them soon after they legalized recreational marijuana.”
The Facebook post continues, “So politicians, let’s keep Guam safe and peaceful for all and not be burden by more addictions which will increase crime to feed their addiction. And please don’t even try to defend marijuana because I, as a parent, do have a marijuana addict in my family and it changes their temperment for the worst. Why do they call them potheads? There’s a reason.”
A glimpse at the concern of enabling addiction in the community, the post concludes, “Let’s take care of those with addictions so they can be cured. If you are in denial then there’s no hope for them, or for you.”
Meanwhile, Managing Partner of Grassroots Guam Janine Sablan stated, “The legalization of adult use of cannabis is an important step for our people towards prosperity. We agree with Senator Ridgell, it isn’t just about our economy but we will also receive social and health benefits for our people. Grassroots Guam fully supports the de-scheduling and legalization of cannabis.”
Appearing to mirror regulations currently implemented on alcohol, Senator Ridgell’s bill places a 21 years or older cap on who can consume marijuana.
How then would money be made in marijuana? Part of the bill calls for cannabis cultivation facilities to be taxed 15% for every dollar sold.
In addition to establishing a 5 member Cannabis Control Board responsible for promulgating rules and regulations to enforce the Act.
If passed, the recreational marijuana bill would take a year to implement with reliable rules and regulations, followed by another 90 days to adopt those rules and another year and a half to open dispensaries.