Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero will decide on whether or not cannabis will be legalized in the U.S. territory after senators narrowly approved the legislation on Wednesday night, the Pacific Daily News reports. Guerrero indicated she supports the measure, which passed 8-7, but needs to review the final version of the bill which received multiple floor amendments.
Cannabis use and possession of less than an ounce is already decriminalized on the island and voters approved medical cannabis legalization in 2014; however, due to a lack of testing facilities, the program is not yet operational. Last year, Guam lawmakers legalized home cultivation to give patients some access.
Sen. Clynt Ridgell, a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, said he researched the pros and cons of legalization and that “data and science … paved a clear route towards the passage” of the legislation.
“The community has been engaged in every step of the process, and the legislative process was followed precisely,” he said during the debate. Vice Speaker Telena Nelson, also a Democrat, had accused lawmakers of rushing the vote and “shoving [legalization] down [constituents’] throats” because they refused to delay the vote until after some community members could hold a town hall meeting on the issue. Nelson ultimately voted ‘no’ on the bill.
Republican Sen. Wil Castro, who opposed the measure, told reporters after its passage that “the next only logical step is to strengthen…the rules and regulations that go with the bill.”
If signed by the governor, Guam would be the second U.S. territory to legalize cannabis for adult use. The Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands passed legalization in 2018.