Will cannabis damage Guam’s image as a family-friendly tourist destination?

Tumon (PNC file photo)

The issue of cannabis possibly damaging the island’s tourism industry came into focus again during today’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) meeting.

This after the Guam Visitors Bureau submitted testimony to the CCB reiterating its opposition to having a recreational cannabis industry on Guam.

According to the GVB testimony, promoting a cannabis industry on Guam may hurt the island’s family-friendly destination image — an image that GVB spent millions of dollars to build over several decades.

This raised the ire of CCB board member Adrian Cruz, who said pointedly: “The smell of hypocrisy in the air is stronger than the waft of cannabis.”

Cruz pointed out that while GVB says it is building a family-friendly atmosphere for Guam tourism, a walk down Tumon would reveal non-family-friendly establishments like strip joints, bars, and massage parlors.

“I applaud them for sticking to their guns when it comes to cannabis, but I don’t hear them out complaining about those other businesses. And you know, I can guarantee you that taking your clothes off to go into a marijuana establishment is not going to be a selling point as it is for other types of businesses, which is not very family friendly, if you ask me,” Cruz said.

He added that the pandemic has shown that Guam needs to diversify its economic base and that includes the tourism industry.

“If we don’t evolve, we will perish because we have to compete with lots of places in our area that have more diversified offerings. You know, sometimes going against the norm is actually a smart thing to do. And if Guam is going to have a new facet to its economy, that’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Cruz said.

He added: “This isn’t the Wild West and it isn’t out of step. It has safety because we’re regulating and that’s what we’re here for. And because we’re not just thinking about tourists, we’re thinking about our residents as well. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”