20 December 2016
The Pacific Daily News reports..
Recreational marijuana is easier to regulate than medical marijuana, he said, and it could boost tourism to the island. Voters in 2014 approved medical marijuana on Guam, but the program has not yet been implemented.
Guam could join seven other states and the District of Columbia, where recreational usage of marijuana is legal and taxed. California and Nevada, following this year’s elections, joined a growing list of states that have relaxed marijuana regulations.
Calvo on Tuesday said he’s open to “doing it in a way where we can look at some of the mistakes and some of the progress that has been made when it comes to marijuana use in the union.”
Calvo said he’s always had concerns about legalizing marijuana medically, let alone recreationally. But, citing Guam voter approval of medical marijuana, and the recent complications in getting the program started, Calvo said he believes recreational marijuana can be more effectively regulated.
“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,” he said.
Calvo said he met with the treasurer of Colorado, where they discussed the state’s initial struggles with its medical marijuana program and its transition to recreational marijuana.
“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.
Calvo said regulating medical marijuana is likely to cost the government $8 million to $10 million a year.
The solution, he said: legalize marijuana for recreational use and impose a sales tax on the drug. The taxes would provide additional revenue for the government to sustain the medical program as well as fund shortfalls at critical agencies.
“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.”
Earlier this week, Calvo said he would “tax the heck” out of marijuana. On Tuesday he said he would like to see the tax rates other states have imposed on the sale of marijuana to determine what Guam’s tax rate should be.
The state of Oregon imposes a 17 percent tax on retail sales of marijuana and a 25 percent sales tax on medical marijuana.
Through August of this year, Colorado collected roughly $124.9 million in tax revenue from nearly $846.5 million in recorded sales, according to The Cannabist, an extension of the Denver Post, which focuses on the state’s recreational marijuana program.
Besides using the potential tax revenue for public education, safety and health care, Calvo said, he would like for some of the tax money to go toward lowering Guam’s recidivism rate for repeat drug offenders.
“We’ve seen on this island, the impact of drug abuse, and it goes through every demographic on our island.”
Calvo said if marijuana is legalized, the island could see an increase in tourism arrivals, particularly from Asian counties.
“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.
When asked if he had ever smoked marijuana, Calvo said, “I can tell you that I have never smoked marijuana as an elected public official. And I’ve been an elected public official for the past 15 years.”
Calvo’s proposal to legalize recreational marijuana comes after his decision to veto Sen. Tina Muna Barne’s Bill 344-33, which would have allowed qualifying patients and caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana plants inside their homes.
Barnes’ Bill 343-33, to officially get the medical program off the ground, lapsed into law this week without Calvo’s signature.
Calvo said it’s going to take a collaborative effort between his office and the Legislature to draft a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, as they also have to consider the pending implementation of the medical program.
Tina Muna Barne’s Bill 344-33GuamTina Muna Barne’s Bill 344-33 medical cannabis Bill No. B344-33 (COR)