The Cannabis Control Board is seeking at least up to August to adopt rules and regulations governing Guam’s recreational cannabis industry, following delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cannabis Control Board Chairwoman Vanessa L. Williams wrote to the governor, seeking an additional four months at least, to roll up the rules.
Without these rules, it remains illegal to sell or buy recreational cannabis on Guam.
Williams also said that once the board is able to convene, she anticipates it will make a formal request to the Legislature to extend the deadline to adopt the rules.
The requirement to adopt the rules within the year, or by April 3, 2020, is set by the law that legalized recreational marijuana on Guam.
Sen. Clynton Ridgell, author of the bill that legalized recreational cannabis, on Monday wrote a letter to the Cannabis Control Board, formally seeking the status of the cannabis industry rules and offering collaboration to resolve delays in coming up with the rules.
The senator said he understands the COVID-19 crisis will cause a delay but believes that the board can conduct some work on the rules while practicing social distancing, including holding meetings via video or phone conferencing.
Many of the board members are directors of agencies on the front line against the COVID-19 outbreak, but Ridgell believes these directors have the authority to designate a colleague to represent them on the board.
“It is my hope that the CCB can continue to meet remotely so that they can create a releasable draft of proposed rules and regulations that the public can review while under lockdown until such time that a public hearing can be held,” Ridgell said.
As to whether he supports the requested four-month extension, Ridgell said, “They need to release a draft before they can hold a public hearing so I’d like for them to at least reach that milestone first.”
Williams said despite the challenges brought by COVID-19, “the rules are almost ready to be finalized for public comment.”
“However, we must still meet in order to do this and of course comply with the applicable laws and executive orders, including the Administrative Adjudication Law rulemaking procedures,” Williams said.
There’s no telling when the next meeting will be.
This public health emergency, according to Williams, is posing challenges for these directors.
They include the directors of the Department of Public Health and Social Services, Department of Revenue and Taxation and the Guam Police Department.
“However, I know all of them worked extremely hard on drafting our rules and expected us to meet the deadlines before this, so I’m confident our next meeting and finalization of the rules will be soon. We’ll just need to figure out how we get through this public hearing process after that,” Williams said.
Since the law’s passage in April 2019, adult recreational cannabis use has become legal on Guam but with limitations.
Commercial activity, such as selling or trading marijuana for anything of value, remains illegal until the rules and regulations are in place.
That means no one can sell cannabis until they are licensed, but no licenses can be issued until the rules are in place.
Personal consumption is allowed. Individuals 21 years and older can also grow up to six plants and consume cannabis at home.