Calvo submits marijuana bill

MARIJUANA: Gov. Eddie Calvo is pictured during a press conference to discuss medical and recreational marijuana use in Guam, Dec. 20, 2016. Post file photo

About a month after Gov. Eddie Calvo vetoed a measure that would allow for the home cultivation of medical marijuana, he has submitted a bill that not only includes cultivation, but allows for the use of recreational marijuana.

Calvo's proposed Marijuana Control Law, introduced yesterday, would legalize the personal use of marijuana for individuals who are 21 or older. 

"We chose this age to be consistent with existing statute on the age the legislature believes adults have the wherewithal to decide for themselves whether to consume mind-altering substances," Calvo wrote to Speaker Benjamin J. Cruz.

The measure would decriminalize the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana, 8 grams or less of the concentrated substance, or the possession of any cannabis-infused product containing 800 mg or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Use of marijuana in public, however, would remain prohibited. The legislation also would limit to six the total amount of plants that can be home-cultivated at one time.

Surprising turn

Andrea Pellacani, the president of Women Grow Guam and a member of Grassroots Guam, which served as a consultant during the measure's development, said it was surprising to see the governor agree to home cultivation after his initial opposition. She added the option to grow for personal use would also benefit individuals using marijuana for medical purposes. 

According to Troy Torres, a senior advisor to the governor, Calvo's initial reluctance with home cultivation stemmed from the complexity of the regulations proposed in a past measure. The new bill simplifies these regulations to become more in line with regulations for other substances, such as tobacco. This should alleviate the need for an overabundance of regulation, Torres added.

"If (regulations) were just something in writing for the sake of it being in writing, then it just becomes a breeding ground for corruption," Torres said of the prior regulatory efforts for home cultivation.

Cannabis Control Board

A Cannabis Control Board will be established through the governor's measure and will be tasked with promulgating additional rules and regulations no later than a year after the bill's enactment. These include packaging and labeling requirements, regulations that would restrict the sale of marijuana products to minors and penalties for failure to comply with regulations.

Stemming from previous comments about the economic impact of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, the latest proposal contains a 15-percent excise tax on the sale or transfer of marijuana to a retail facility. According to the measure, tax proceeds will initially fund the implementation of a recreational marijuana program as well as the medical marijuana program. Afterward, funding will go to the Guam Memorial Hospital.

The control law would also not infringe on Guam's medical marijuana law and no tax will be implemented to patients, the governor added.

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