We talk a lot about the 50 standard US states and where they stand on recreational marijuana policy. But the US includes more than just 50 states, and of the territories included in the repertoire of US properties, Guam legalized recreational marijuana first. Now, in order to iron out the wrinkles of regulation, Guam is asking its citizens for help!
A little about Guam
Guam is an island located in the North Pacific Ocean which is considered an unincorporated territory. We’re all familiar with the fact that Guam is not actually part of the United States, but most of us are aware that its somehow related. The US has different territories that it governs, but not in the exact same way as the standard 50. An unincorporated territory is “A United States insular area in which the United States Congress has determined that only selected parts of the United States Constitution apply.”
Guam is governed under the Organic Act of Guam, which was established by Congress and the president on August 1st, 1950. While the act made Guam natives into US citizens, they don’t have the ability to vote in national elections. A 1968 amendment to the Act allows for local elections for a governor. Guam is also able to elect a delegate to the US House of Representatives in two-year terms, however with limited voting rights that impede the ability to vote on the final passage of legislation.
Guam is about 5,800 miles off the coast of San Francisco, and its capital city is Hagåtña, or Agana. Natives of Guam are generally of Malaysian and Indonesian decent, with a good mix of Filipino, Mexican, Spanish, and European and Asian ancestry thrown in.
Guam has multiple US military facilities housed on its premises, in particular Anderson Air Force Base. While agriculture and fishing are big industries on the Island, work on the military bases has also provided much income to locals. Tourism is also a very prominent part of the economy.
Guam has a small population numbering approximately 168,000.
Guam and cannabis
Like most places around the world, Guam spent most of the 20th century with laws illegalizing cannabis use on all levels. However, by 2014, things were starting to change. In November 2014, Guam citizens voted on a referendum measure to legalize medicinal marijuana. The measure – Joaquin KC Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act – passed with 56% of the vote. This, as per the usual, did not result in immediate action, and in the following years there were many set-backs. The law was officially signed in 2015, and in 2017 there were still issues that kept it from being used. Now, however, the territory has an operational program for using cannabis for debilitative sicknesses.
In a strange turnaround, a month after Governor Eddie Calvo put a veto on a measure of the medical marijuana law that would allow home cultivation to license holders, he put forth a bill that not only does cover personal cultivation of cannabis, but called for the legalization of recreational marijuana in general. The bill was introduced in January 2017.
The bill – The Guam Industry Cannabis Act of 2019 – was signed into law in April 2019 by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. The legalization covers individuals over the age of 21, and allows for up to one ounce (28 grams). This legalization also didn’t go into effect straight away as it…