The governor of Guam has said he will push to legalize recreational marijuana in the coming year.
Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo says he’ll work with lawmakers to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in 2017, Pacific Daily News reports. Legalizing marijuana use for adults would boost tourism, claims Calvo, and it’s easier to regulate than medical marijuana.
“I don’t think there’s anyone that would dispute that it’s much simpler and more efficient to regulate a recreational type of industry than a medical industry in Guam or the United States,” Calvo said.
Guam voters approved medical marijuana in 2014, but the program has yet to be implemented. Regulating medical marijuana is expected to cost the government $8 million to $10 million annually, Calvo claims, and in turn he suggests that Guam abandon the medical program and replace it with an adult use one. Just recently, Calvo vetoed a bill introduced by Sen. Tina Muna Barne that would have allowed qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate marijuana at home, claiming that the bill would have placed a burden on public health and safety.
“I would like to work with the Legislature to come to a common ground, and towards a resolution,” Calvo said. “A resolution where the desires of the public in regards to the use of medicinal marijuana are met.”
Legalizing adult use marijuana would also encourage tourism from nearby Asian countries, Calvo argues.
“I would figure if it was for medicinal purposes, you’re going to see a lot of Japanese and Koreans here trying to get a prescription, but probably if it’s recreational, too, there may be quite a few East Asians looking toward Guam too as an area for either medicinal or other purposes,” Calvo said.
Calvo plans to look at the tax rates imposed on marijuana sales by the U.S. states that have legalized recreational use to determine what Guam’s rate should be, but has said he would take advantage of a high tax rate to raise money for public services.
“I want us to look at how states navigated into recreational marijuana. Let’s figure it out and then tax the heck out of it and use those taxes to help fund our hospital, public safety and education, Calvo said in a written statement.
Calvo also wants to use some of the revenue to help treat drug abuse.
“We’ve seen on this island, the impact of drug abuse, and it goes through every demographic on our island,” he said.
Calvo has said he’s already met with a treasurer of Colorado to discuss the challenges that the state faced with its medical marijuana program and during its transition into legalizing recreational marijuana. Colorado’s retail marijuana sales have generated more than $150 million in tax revenue so far for 2016.
“The major logistical issues in regards to government agencies, is having to monitor all areas of the movement of marijuana from both growth state to alternate use by the patient,” Calvo said.