Guam earned the distinctive title of first U.S. Territory to send a marijuana legalization bill to the governor on March 25. The territory’s legislators submitted 8 yes votes on the matter, just enough to push the bill through to the next stage.
Six officials co-sponsored the bill, including one Republican. These six, along with two others, were enough to see the bill through to the next stage in the process to becoming law.
The bill proposes a 15% tax and outlines uses for the funds that include law enforcement funding and substance abuse treatment. Certain amendments have been proposed and approved during the numerous hearings held prior to this stage in the bill approval process, adding stipulations that marijuana businesses cannot operate within 1,000 feet of schools and also ensuring an impact study will be completed.
Democratic Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has already been part of the process, as she met with Sen. Clynt Ridge, the bill’s sponsor, to discuss the legislation already. As a supporter of marijuana legalization, the bill is not expected to hit any snags when it reaches Gov. Guerrero’s hands.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is the only other territory to make the move to legalize. That territory formalized legalization in 2018. Meanwhile, the U.S. Virgin Islands saw a medical marijuana bill signed into law by its governor in January 2019. Medical marijuana became legal in Guam in 2014, but the program has been extraordinarily slow in reaching full operation.
Guam also has the distinction of being the first of any U.S. state or territory to send a bill to a governor to be signed in 2019.