The board tasked to roll up Guam's adult recreational cannabis rules on Thursday opened the written comment period on the 133-page draft regulations, while the public hearings have been moved to Nov. 19, 20 and 21.
Any written comment can now be sent to email@example.com, according to Cannabis Control Board Vice Chairwoman Dafne Shimizu.
Those who want to participate in the physical or Zoom public hearings are encouraged to send an email to the same address to reserve the time they want to present their oral comment.
Board member Therese Arriola said this preliminary sign-up sheet will help the board and the public in managing the public hearing hours.
During the Cannabis Control Board's 21st regular meeting on Thursday, the board announced these new public hearing dates:
- Thursday, Nov. 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Nov. 20, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A copy of the proposed rules is available on The Guam Daily Post website or the Department of Revenue and Taxation website, guamtax.com/ccb/index.html.
The rescheduled public hearings have longer hours to receive testimony from the public.
For example, the Saturday hearing will now be for a full day, with a lunch break, instead of the initial schedule of only four hours.
Shimizu and other board members said they want to get as much public participation in the rule-making process as possible.
Public input is a key component before the rules become final, and before any cannabis selling, buying or trading is allowed.
The board worked on coming up with the draft rules for more than a year, hoping to ensure that Guam has a safe, quality cannabis industry, which also encourages a competitive market without unreasonably high barriers to entry.
COVID-19 has delayed the process of finalizing the rules for six months now.
The three-day public hearings will be held in the large conference room at Adelup but anyone interested can also participate via Zoom.
Shimizu, who's also the director of the Department of Revenue and Taxation, said the public hearings needed to be rescheduled because the Adelup conference room wouldn't be available during the original dates of Nov. 12 to 14.
Only four members of the public giving comment will be allowed at any given time in the Adelup conference room to ensure safe social distancing.
One Cannabis Control Board member at a time will also be present to host the hearings. The rest will participate via Zoom.
Guam remains under the highest level of coronavirus pandemic condition of readiness, and public gatherings are still limited.
Each member of the public will be given up to 15 minutes to comment on the draft rules during the public hearing.
Adrian Cruz, board member and also deputy director of the Department of Agriculture, proposed the use of the Legislature's public hearing room since it's already set up for hearings with ample social distancing and with built-in broadcast equipment.
If this public hearing room is available from Nov. 19 to 21, then the board said it will promptly announce a venue change.
Rev and Tax and Agriculture completed their preliminary cost impact assessment report, while the Department of Public Health and Social Services said it should be done with its report by Nov. 6.
For Rev and Tax alone, the cost impact could be $490,663, inclusive of personnel, equipment, and other item costs, based on preliminary data.
Shimizu said Rev and Tax will compile the reports from the three agencies to come up with one preliminary cost impact assessment for public release before the public hearings.
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 Guam recreational marijuana retail market is expected to reach $133 million in annual sales once the industry is in full operation. This is based on pre-COVID-19 estimates.
The same pre-COVID-19 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.
AG review of seed-to-sale tracking RFP
As of Thursday, the Office of the Attorney General is still reviewing the draft request for proposals for a seed-to-sale cannabis tracking system, according to Public Health's Zita Pangelinan.
Public Health submitted the revised draft RFP to OAG on Sept. 2.
The tracking system will follow every plant legally grown and sold on Guam.
Guam legalized the adult recreational use of marijuana in April through a law authored by Sen. Clynton Ridgell.
Individuals 21 years and older can use cannabis and grow up to six plants at home. It is also legal to possess up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis flower in public.
But while the law immediately took effect in April 2019, commercial manufacturing and sales have been on hold until regulations are finalized to manage the new industry.
Under the proposed rules, a cannabis business must have at least 51% ownership by a Guam resident. The proposed permits and fees can be as high as $15,000.