Cannabis in Guam

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Cannabis in Guam is as of 2015 legal for medical purposes, but illegal for recreational purposes. Guam was the first United States Territory to legalize medical marijuana, in 2014.

The 2012 UNODC World Drug Report ranked Guam as the third-highest nation for adult cannabis in the world, at 18.4%.[1][2]

History

A 1996 report by the Guam Health Planning and Development Agency attributes the origin of marijuana usage in Guam to the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s, when American servicemen on the island popularized the habit.[3]

Guam v. Guerrero

Guam v. Guerrero was a United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit ruling issued in 2002, which ruled that Benny Guerrero was not entitled to religious protections for his possession of cannabis on Guam despite his professed Rastafarian religion. Guerrero was arresed for possession at Guam International Airport in 1991. His argument for religious exemption had been approved by a lower court, then by the Supreme Court of Guam which found it valid under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution of Guam, however the Guamanian government raised the issue to the Ninth Circuit which ultimately struck down the lower findings.[4][5][6]

Cannabis economy

The August 2003 Guam Drug Threat Assessment by the National Drug Intelligence Center notes:

Enhanced eradication, interdiction, and street-level law enforcement initiatives caused a significant increase in marijuana prices in the early 1990s, and prices have remained high. In 1991 the price for 1 pound of marijuana increased from $2,500 to between $5,000 and $8,000. According to DEA, in the second quarter of FY2002 marijuana sold for $12,800 per pound. In addition, marijuana sold for $800 per ounce, and $20 per joint. The drug typically is distributed at the retail level in machine-rolled joints. In spite of law enforcement efforts, marijuana is more readily available on Guam than in Japan. As a result, many young Japanese tourists seek the drug during their visits. The price of one machine-rolled joint for sale to a Japanese tourist ranges from $150 to $200, considerably more than the $20 paid by local users. ...

Despite the widespread availability of marijuana, the number of marijuana-related federal sentences on Guam remained very low from FY1997 through FY2001. According to USSC data, Guam had two marijuana-related federal sentences in FY1997, one in FY1998, none in FY1999, none in FY2000, and one in FY2001.

Cannabis is cultivated both outdoors and indoors on Guam, primarily for personal consumption. Because of the poor soil, domestically produced marijuana has lower THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels than marijuana produced in other source areas. ... Violence is occasionally associated with cannabis cultivation on Guam. Law enforcement authorities encounter a significant number of small cannabis plots in remote areas, and cannabis growers occasionally booby-trap these cultivation sites, endangering both law enforcement officers and the general public.

Marijuana typically is smuggled into Guam from the Republic of Palau and, to a lesser extent, from Hawaii and the Federated States of Micronesia via package delivery services or in commercial air cargo. Often the relatives of Guam residents who are of Palauan descent ship large coolers containing fish or yams with 5 to 10 pounds of marijuana hidden inside the coolers' walls. Bodycarriers aboard commercial aircraft also transport marijuana into Guam. ...[7]

Medical marijuana

Guam legalized medical marijuana for "debilitative conditions" via referendum in the November 2014 mid-term elections, with 56% voting in favor.[8]

Guam had previously attempted to legalize medical marijuana in 2010, under "Bill 420" (later withdrawn and replaced with Bill 423); its public hearing was attended by only one person, who spoke against the measure, and the bill was unsuccessful.[9]

References

  1. "World Drug Report" (PDF). UNODC. 2012. 
  2. Jeff Stone. "US Ranks No. 7 On Global List Of Marijuana Use, As Percentage Of Users Continues To Rise". Ibtimes.com. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  3. Guam Health Planning and Development Agency (1996). Guam Health Plan: 2001 and Beyond. The Agency. p. 104. 
  4. "GUAM v. GUERRERO | FindLaw". Caselaw.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  5. "Ninth Circuit Rejects Rastafarian’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Defense to Charge of Marijuana Importation". Metnews.com. 2002-05-29. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  6. "ACLU Asks U.S. Appeals Court to Defer to Guam High Court on Rastafarian's Right to Use Marijuana for Religious Purposes | American Civil Liberties Union". Aclu.org. 2001-11-02. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  7. "Marijuana - Guam Drug Threat Assessment". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  8. Ingraham, Christopher (2014-11-04). "Medical marijuana advocates notch an early victory in Guam". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 
  9. Only one shows up for pot bill (2010-07-15). "Only one shows up for pot bill". Mvguam.com. Retrieved 2015-07-15. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Guam Drug Threat Assessment NDIC".