11 Jan 2017
- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan - For Variety
HAGÅTÑA — Becoming impatient over the long-delayed completion of the rules and regulations that will govern the use of medicinal marijuana on Guam, Gov. Eddie Calvo on Tuesday proposed the legalization of the recreational pot use.
“I am introducing the bill not because I personally support the recreational use of marijuana but as a solution to the regulatory labyrinth that sprouted from the voter-mandated medical marijuana program,” Calvo said in a cover letter for a bill submitted to the Legislature.
The proposed bill, titled “The Marijuana Control Law,” would allow any resident to grow marijuana either for personal use or commercial distribution to be taxed at 15 percent.
Guam became the first U.S. territory to legalize medicinal marijuana through a ballot initiative passed by Guam voters in 2014. Under the law, marijuana is allowed to be used for “debilitating medical conditions” such as epilepsy, HIV, cancer and glaucoma. The law, however, has yet to be implemented pending final action by the Department of Public Health and Social Services on how it will be regulated.
“The program was well-intended, seeking to provide for patients rather than leaving them in the dark or to the risk of the black market,” Calvo said. “While eliminating the black market is advantageous, the regulatory nightmare that became the medicinal program, would have replaced it with a gray market rife with corruption and cronyism.”
The governor said his proposed bill would simplify the process by decriminalizing the production sale, distribution and consumption of cannabis, controlling the industry and taxing its sale.
“If passed in its current form, the bill will not affect any of the provisions of the medical marijuana law,” Calvo said. “Patients with the proper credentials will be able to purchase cannabis products according to the rules and regulations of that program.”
Under the governor’s bill, 21 is the minimum legal age for recreational use of marijuana — mirroring the legal age for alcohol purchase and consumption.
“We chose this age to be consistent with existing statute on the age the Legislature believes adults have the wherewithal to decide for themselves where to consume mind-altering substances,” Calvo said.
If the bill is enacted into law, the governor said, anyone would be allowed to grow marijuana for personal use “without fear of arrest or the burden of taxation so long as they are not selling their harvest without the business license required by law.”
Initial tax revenues to be collected from marijuana businesses would be earmarked first for public education programs and campaigns encouraging healthy lifestyles, followed by the first $40 million to be collected annually to the operation of Guam memorial Hospital.
“The bill contains several provisions, which were inspired by the Colorado program, then heavily vetted and changed by my legal counsel appropriate to Guam’s needs,” Calvo said.