Carl T.C. Gutierrez, Pacific Daily News USA TODAY Network Published 11:22 a.m. ChT Dec. 7, 2020
Carl T.C. Gutierrez (Photo: Courtesy of GVB)
Håfa adai. As the government of Guam introduces rapid testing and vaccinations to contain COVID-19, our tourism-dependent economy is faced with another existential dilemma before the visitor industry reopens for business.
The recent closure of the public comment period on the Cannabis Control Board’s draft industry rules for the commercialization of recreational marijuana on Guam has sparked a backlash from a tourism industry built on family-friendly vacations.
Our travel associations, tour agents and chambers of commerce are sounding the alarm about forbidding public consumption and keeping Tumon pot-free due to the risk it will chase our Asian source markets away.
The fear is that even though the law already prohibits public consumption, the slippery slope that legalized medicinal marijuana and greenlit recreational use will eventually lead to the tacit or outright approval of public pot smoking and mark Guam as anti-family.
But the bottom line has less to do with judging lifestyles or impinging on rights than with protecting perceptions that attract visitors and determining the safest way to relaunch a fragile economy.
While some may dislike the smell of burning marijuana, the law supports your adult right to smoke it in private just as much as it supports the rights of minors and other adults not to breathe secondhand cannabis smoke.
But we must consider how recreational cannabis use, distribution and retail sales will affect our multibillion-dollar tour and travel economy in practice.
Much like today’s Las Vegas, our local visitor industry proudly bills itself as family friendly, with a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment enjoyably experienced in multigenerational groups. But, not unlike Vegas, some adult visitors still enjoy certain novel