Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero believes that marijuana prohibition in the U.S. would soon end, as more states have legalized the use of cannabis—either medically, recreationally, or both. There are currently 33 states where medical cannabis is legal with a doctor’s prescription, 14 others have laws that limit the contents of possession while 10 have legalized recreational use.
“I see it like it was, when in the 1930s there was alcohol prohibition. And look at where we are today. My prediction, eventually, [that] it is the federal government that is going to have to remove marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, to making it not illegal,” said Leon Guerrero, who made history after becoming Guam’s first female governor.
Heroin, LSD, and ecstasy join marijuana as some of the other Schedule 1 drugs that are on the list of substances banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Leon Guerrero pointed out that more than 30 U.S. jurisdictions—states and territories—had moved to regulate or loosen some of the restrictions. “There’s a conflict between federal laws and state laws; but I think the state laws are going to prevail. I watch it very closely, I think real soon the federal government will be [aligned] with state laws.”
Guam has already legalized the medical use of marijuana via a ballot measure on Nov. 4, 2014, while the CNMI legalized both medical and recreational use while also allowing cultivation through a bill that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed into law on Sept. 21, 2018.
“For us here, especially in Guam, we did pass medicinal marijuana. We do have some struggles with the rules and regulations but I watch it very closely,” said Leon Guerrero.
“I’m actually very envious that the CNMI did it before we did [medicinal and recreational use]. I am very supportive of [cannabis legalization]. Being a nurse, I know the medical benefits of cannabis, [tetrahydrocannabinol], and [cannabidiol].”
She added that marijuana can treat several medical conditions and more studies are needed to be done to prove that. “It [marijuana] works to alleviate our people’s pain and suffering. It has shown to be very positive for neurological diseases, like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.”
Leon Guerrero said legalizing medical use in Guam also has its birth pains. “The physicians are not willing to prescribe it because it is a Schedule 1 drug. That’s one of the barriers. I’m just thinking that if we just legalized it as adult recreational, then a lot of that will be addressed and will help benefit our people (suffering) from those diseases.”
A standard must also be in place if adult recreational use is legalized, like with other controlled substances. “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”
“It is not like, anybody can just go out there and smoke. Colorado has a really good law; they can’t smoke in public. Things like that we can put into the statutes so that there is some regulation. Definitely, we’re looking into that.”