Following a prior statement he made about revisiting legislation that proposes a higher age restriction on tobacco use, Speaker Benjamin Cruz has introduced Bill 9-34, a measure that increases the smoking age to 21.
According to a release from Cruz's office, Gov. Eddie Calvo's recent submission of a recreational marijuana bill served as a catalyst for the reintroduction of his smoking age bill – a measure he pursued during his time as vice speaker in the 33rd Guam Legislature.
"On July 2, 2010, then-Sen. Eddie Baza Calvo joined me in voting to raise Guam’s legal drinking age to 21. Just a few days ago, he recognized that the recreational consumption of marijuana should also reflect that age," Cruz stated in the release.
"So why is it that, when it comes to tobacco – which kills more people than alcohol, auto accidents, and illicit drugs combined – Gov. Calvo can’t seem to agree with himself?"
Calvo vetoed Cruz's previous attempt at increasing the tobacco smoking age and an override attempt fell short by two votes. In his veto, Calvo criticized the measure for infringing on people's personal freedom. Cruz expected this argument to continue, according to the release, but added that research suggested that older individuals had a greater capacity for mature judgment, especially in situations where peer influence was involved.
"Moreover, a majority of underage users rely on social sources such as family and friends to get tobacco," the release stated.
"The speaker notes that, while raising the legal age to 19 would not have much of an effect on reducing social sources for high school teens, raising the legal age to 21, on the other hand, would mean that those who can legally buy tobacco are less likely to be in the same social networks as these students."
Licenses to be available
The governor's Cannabis Control Act was introduced on Jan. 10. In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana, it would allow for home cultivation – a remnant of past attempts to make marijuana access easier for patients. Guam's medical marijuana law passed through a voter referendum in 2014. An amendment to that law was enacted last year.
According to the Department of Public Health and Social Services, applications to obtain a medical cannabis license will be available at the central Public Health building in Mangilao starting next week Wednesday, Jan. 18. Related documents are available at www.dphss.guam.gov.