The Cannabis Control Act will be receiving testimony today for the second time since Gov. Eddie Calvo introduced it in January. The first hearing took place in February, and a second hearing was originally anticipated in March but Speaker Benjamin Cruz opted to postpone the hearing amid stirrings at the federal level on the enforcement of marijuana laws.
The plant remains a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level, while various states have decriminalized its use.
"While I support this measure in principle, I am concerned that the passage of the bill, at this time, may cause a wholly permissible activity under Guam law to be the basis for criminal prosecution under federal law," Cruz stated in a March letter to the governor.
The speaker added he would reschedule a hearing for April with further correspondence from the governor. The legislation now appears to be moving forward as federal lawmakers introduce various measures to reschedule and regulate marijuana.
Bill proposes rescheduling
A bill introduced in the House of Representatives from Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Darren Soto proposes to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III substance – placing it in the same classification as anabolic steroids, according to Gaetz's website.
"This drug should not be in the same category as heroin and LSD, and we do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year. Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help – from pain, from muscle wasting, from chemotherapy-induced nausea," Gaetz stated in a press release.
The bipartisan proposal came about a week after the introduction of another bipartisan package aimed at addressing financing and legal challenges faced by marijuana businesses and consumers.
Path to Marijuana Reform
The Path to Marijuana Reform, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, is a package of three bills that would repeal tax penalties, remove federal criminal penalties for individuals and businesses acting in compliance with state law, ensure access to banking activities and deschedule, tax and regulate marijuana.
"Retailers, researchers, health care providers, and marijuana producers complying with state law may face penalties, jail time, and asset forfeiture under federal law," an executive summary of the package stated.
"In the face of these challenges, the state-legal marijuana business sector continues to grow. In 2016 the state-legal marijuana industry produced an estimated $7.2 billion in economic activity, with marijuana businesses paying billions of dollars in federal income tax."
Guam's Cannabis Control Act is also meant to produce revenue for the island in the form of a 15 percent excise tax. However, despite the support at the federal and local level, marijuana use remains divisive in both the region and among most residents in Guam.