Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said she is in support of new legislation that promises to legalize adult use of marijuana and marijuana products.

Leon Guerrero and freshman Sen. Clynt Ridgell, the bill's author, met Friday morning to discuss the legislation, dubbed the "Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019."

The governor's position is not surprising. She has been supportive of fully legalizing marijuana and regulating its use similar to tobacco and alcohol.

Marijuana, or cannabis, is federally classified as a Schedule I illegal substance but is legally available for adult or recreational use in 10 states plus the District of Columbia.

Ridgell's Bill 32-35 will allow adults age 21 and older to personally cultivate, purchase and use cannabis and cannabis products on Guam.

The bill also would legalize commercial cultivation, manufacturing, and sales of cannabis and cannabis products for adult personal use.

Ridgell said a cannabis industry on the island could increase tourism because medical and recreational use is still prohibited in countries including Japan, which has recently become a declining market for Guam.

Concerns from tourism industry

But such proposals were met with skepticism by the Guam Visitors Bureau about two years ago, when then-Gov. Eddie Calvo attempted to pass his own recreational use legislation.

At the time, GVB received general feedback from overseas markets on recreational marijuana and noted it was generally agreed upon that legalizing the practice may compromise Guam's image as a family friendly and safe destination.

Guam spent years building its profile and the unintended ramifications of recreational marijuana worried stakeholders in an industry holding one-third of the island's workforce, according to the agency. Guam's primary markets are in Asia, which have very strict laws on drug use.

Calvo put the brakes on his own bill midway through 2017 in light of pronouncements from then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to crack down on jurisdictions with legal recreational marijuana.

Exiting GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight said the agency is reviewing Bill 32 and will need to discuss it with its board of directors. The new administration has appointed Pilar Laguaña to replace Denight.

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