Hearings on cannabis draft rules set for November

RULES: A marijuana plant is shown in this file photo. Public hearings on the draft rules for cannabis retail operations and cultivation will be held from Nov. 12-14. Post file photo

Adult recreational marijuana retail sales on Guam are a step closer to reality, with the completion of the 133-page draft rules on application fees of up to $15,000, cultivation guidelines and penalties.

The proposed rules and regulations also specify the "public" places where anyone is prohibited from using cannabis.

Public beaches, parks, airports, bars, shopping malls, restaurants and sporting facilities are among those areas.

Anyone planning on entering the recreational marijuana retail market, which is expected to reach $133 million in annual sales once the industry is in full operation, is encouraged to review the proposed rules.

Once certain COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, public hearings on the draft regulations can begin. 

Public input is a key component before the rules become final, and before any selling, buying or trading is allowed.

The Cannabis Control Board, led by Chairwoman Vanessa Williams, worked on the draft rules for more than a year, with key overarching policy considerations.

Williams said these include ensuring "Guam has a safe, quality cannabis" industry and allowing and encouraging "a competitive and diverse market without unreasonably high barriers to entry."

They also include discouraging or reducing the black market, she said.

These policy considerations also were about providing "adequate safeguards and security against the inherent dangers of having a highly regulated adult-use only product and a cash-based business," Williams said.

"I hope that when the proposed regulations are implemented that we'll see these policy considerations were achieved, but only time will tell," Williams told The Guam Daily Post.

Cost impact analysis

The Cannabis Control Board sent an Aug. 28 letter to the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, requesting BBMR's assistance in preparing a preliminary cost impact assessment of the proposed rules.

This requirement will determine whether the implementation of the proposed rules will have an annual economic impact to the general public of more than $500,000.

A pre-COVID study on cannabis use estimates 14,500 adult Guam residents and 66,000 tourists will take advantage of recreational cannabis in the first full year of the industry taking off.

Sen. Clynton Ridgell's first bill became law in April 2019, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

The law immediately took effect, but commercial manufacturing and sales have been on hold as the Cannabis Control Board was developing the regulations to manage the new industry.

Individuals 21 years and older can use cannabis and grow no more than six plants at home. It is also legal to possess up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis flower in public.

Some fees and costs

  • Cannabis ID cards for employees, managers, responsible officials: $25 to $1,000
  • Cultivation license application fee: $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of the cultivation sites
  • New cultivation license fee: $3,000 to $10,000
  • License renewal fee: $3,000 to $15,000
  • Permit to operate: $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the operation
  • Cultivation facility license fees: $2,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the cultivation area
  • Cannabis product manufacturing facility license: $5,000
  • Cannabis testing facility license: $2,000
  • Retail cannabis store license: $5,000

A cannabis business must have at least 51% ownership by a Guam resident. Under the proposed rules, a legal resident of Guam is considered to be one who has maintained a residential address on the island for no less than three years prior to the application for a cannabis establishment license.

"I hope and believe the final rules will be adopted before the end of 2020, because that's what everyone wants and is working as hard as they can to make that happen," Williams said.

But as Guam has seen these last six months of COVID, things can change from one week to the next, she said.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert


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