Lawmakers in Guam voted in favor of a bill to legalize marijuana March 26, 2019, which means the island territory could become the first place in the U.S. to end cannabis prohibition in 2019.
The legislation, which would permit adults 21 and older to possess, consume, cultivate and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers, heads to the desk of Guam's pro-reform governor, Democrat Lou Leon Guerrero.
Cannabis sales would be subject to a 15 percent excise tax, with revenue helping to fund law enforcement, substance use disorder treatment, and agriculture programs.
The bill needed eight “yes” votes in the Senate to pass and received exactly that many, with seven senators voting against the legislation. Those “yes” votes include the bill's six co-sponsors, one of whom — Telo Taitague — is a Republican.
“The people of Guam can be proud that their elected officials are willing to do the right thing in regards to cannabis policy,” Justin Strekal, political director for NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “Lawmakers throughout the United States should take notice and notes.”
The legislature held several hearings on the bill in the run-up to the vote, with a number of amendments being adopted in recent weeks, including provisions prohibiting marijuana businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds, requiring an economic impact study, and changing how revenues are allocated.
When the bill arrives on the desk of Leon Guerrero, she's expected to sign it into law. The governor has been a supporter of cannabis legalization and met in February 2019 with the proposal's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Clynt Ridgell, to go over the legislation.
“I think this is something that our island needs right now,” Ridgell told The Pacific Daily News in January 2019.
Guam is set to join the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which legalized cannabis in 2018, as the latest U.S. territory to reform its marijuana laws.Guam is set to join the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which legalized cannabis in 2018, as the latest U.S. territory to reform its marijuana laws. Click To Tweet
The island became the first territory to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in 2014, but advocates have been critical of the program's slow rollout. One senator said she'd support the adult-use legalization bill on the condition that it's “an opportunity for us to get the medicine into the hands of our patients a lot sooner.”
The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, another U.S. territory, signed a medical cannabis bill into law in January 2019.
Marijuana legalization proposals have moved forward in several states this year — including being passed by the New Mexico House of Representatives — but until Guam lawmakers' action, no stateside U.S. legislature had yet sent a bill to end prohibition to a governor's desk in 2019.
This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.