Cannabis in Guam has been legal for medical purposes since 2015 and legal for recreational purposes since April 2019. Guam was the first United States Territory to legalize medical marijuana, passing via a ballot referendum in 2014.
The 2012 UNODC World Drug Report ranked Guam as the third-highest jurisdiction for adult cannabis use in the world at 18.4%. As of 2017[update], NORML reported that possession of less than an ounce outside a school zone could result in a civil infraction with a $100 fine.
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.
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 Rastafari religion. Guerrero was arrested 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.
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. ...
Guam legalized medical marijuana for "debilitative conditions" via referendum in the November 2014 mid-term elections, with 56% voting in favor.
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.
In 2017, Guam's governor vetoed legislation to allow medical cannabis license holders to cultivate cannabis in their homes.
In January 2017 governor Eddie Calvo proposed a bill, called the Marijuana Control Law, to legalize recreational cannabis in Guam. In January 2019, governor Lou Leon Guerrero addressed possible recreational legalization in Guam, noting "We need to put in the same kinds of rules and regulations in terms of regulating alcohol, tobacco, and other substances so it won’t get abused."
In March 2019, the Legislature of Guam passed a bill (by a very close vote of 8-7) to legalize cannabis and immediately sent it to the Governor’s desk. On April 4th 2019, the Governor of Guam signed the bill allowing for full recreational legalization of cannabis.
- "World Drug Report" (PDF). UNODC. 2012.
- 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.
- Guam Laws and Penalties, NORML
- Guam Health Planning and Development Agency (1996). Guam Health Plan: 2001 and Beyond. The Agency. p. 104.
- "GUAM v. GUERRERO | FindLaw". Caselaw.findlaw.com. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- "Ninth Circuit Rejects Rastafarian's 'Religious Freedom' Defense to Charge of Marijuana Importation". Metnews.com. 2002-05-29. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- "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.
- "Marijuana - Guam Drug Threat Assessment". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- Ingraham, Christopher (2014-11-04). "Medical marijuana advocates notch an early victory in Guam". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- Only one shows up for pot bill (2010-07-15). "Only one shows up for pot bill". Mvguam.com. Archived from the original on 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- "Marijuana home cultivation, senators' raises vetoed". Guampdn.com. 2016-12-16. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- "Calvo submits marijuana bill | Local News". postguam.com. 2017-01-06. Retrieved 2017-01-12.
- "'Marijuana prohibition to end'". Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads - Saipan Tribune. 4 February 2019.
- Jaeger, Kyle (27 March 2019). "Guam Becomes First U.S. Territory To Send Marijuana Legalization To Governor In 2019".
- Angell, Tom (4 April 2019). "Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Marijuana In Guam".