Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed the Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019 into law on April 5, decriminalizing marijuana use for adults 21 and older, and paving the way for the creation of a recreational marijuana industry on Guam.
Sen. Clynt Ridgell introduced what would become the Cannabis Industry Act as one of his first actions as senator.
The bill's enactment did not come too smoothly, however. It passed the Legislature with a narrow 8-7 voting margin in its favor.
In addition to Ridgell, the eight senators who voted for the legislation were Joe San Agustin, Biscoe Lee, Telo Taitague, Muna, Jose Terlaje, and Kelly Marsh and Speaker Barnes.
Sens. James Moylan, Wil Castro, Therese Terlaje, Sabina Perez, Mary Torres, Amanda Shelton and Telena Nelson voted against it.
Conversations around recreational marijuana gained traction as the island's medicinal marijuana program remained stagnant years after Guam voters opted to legalize medicinal use.
Lawmakers and public officials attempted to rectify the holes in Guam's existing medicinal marijuana, enacting rules and regulations that also apply to home cultivation.
In signing the legislation into law, Leon Guerrero said keeping marijuana illegal would allow the black market to continue to flourish.
"We have to take it and control it (and) we must regulate this illicit drug that is the most widely used drug in our society," Leon Guerrero said the day she enacted the law.
Cannabis products will be available only at designated cannabis stores that have been licensed by the Cannabis Control Board, said Ridgell when the legislation became law. Marijuana will not be for sale at Pay-Less or 7-Eleven, he said.
Cannabis cannot be consumed in any public place, in any vehicle, and not at the park or the beach, said Ridgell. It can be consumed only "on private property, in the privacy of your own home."
While legal marijuana is now a rule of the land, establishing an industry to take advantage of that new status has presented its own challenges.
The rules and regulations to kick start the industry have not yet been developed.
Similar to the creation of the Medical Cannabis Regulation Commission, the Cannabis Industry Act established a Cannabis Control Board tasked with developing regulations for a recreational industry.
The board has until April 3, 2020 to create those rules.
Also like medicinal marijuana, cannabis sold for recreational use requires lab testing, and a lab has yet to be established.