Guam: Recreational cannabis could create hundreds of jobs

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An economic impact study on the legalization of recreational cannabis in Guam — obtained by the Guam Visitors Bureau and adopted by the Cannabis Control Board — says the industry could generate more than $100 million in economic activity and hundreds of jobs.

Guam residents could spend about $10 million on cannabis during the industry's first year, and tourists could spend more than $1 million, the study states.

The cannabis board transmitted the study to the Legislature on Oct. 19. The economic impact study is required under the April 2019 law that legalized recreational marijuana on island.

The cannabis board also is working on a separate required report on how the cannabis industry will impact government operations, including staffing and resources at the agencies that are involved in regulating it.

Adults currently can possess recreational cannabis and grow and consume it at home, but selling it or trading it for anything of value is illegal until the rules and regulations are adopted and the government-regulated industry starts.

The board has scheduled three public hearings on the rules and regulations for mid-November but has not yet finalized details on how the public will participate. It plans to make hard copies of the proposed rules and regulations available for review at the Department of Agriculture in Mangilao, in addition to making electronic copies available online.

The cannabis board noted that the economic study is based on Guam's economic conditions before the pandemic.

The impact study projects the economic gains of a legalized recreational cannabis industry as a result of an increased number of visitors, additional spending per visitor, and local spending.

In her transmittal letter to legislative Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Vanessa Williams, chairwoman of the Cannabis Control Board, said that the report was available for deliberation on March 13, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its submission to the Legislature.

Williams wrote that since the report was completed before the pandemic, the numbers and figures in the study are based on a normal, or pre-pandemic year of visitor arrivals and economic activity for Guam.


The study made certain assumptions to calculate the industry's potential effect on Guam. It used data from Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington to create a Guam model. The study projected that Guam would get 31,500 new visitors during the first year as a result of legalization. It also projected that 35,000 current visitors would partake in the industry.

The study states visitors would consume about 1 gram of cannabis per day during a stay of about three days, at a cost of $6.90 per gram. As a result, Guam's visitors are expected to spend $1.3 million per year on cannabis, it states.

The study also used Colorado figures to determine that there will be about 14,000 adult cannabis users on Guam. The study estimated Guam adult cannabis consumption at 0.7 grams per day for an average of 141 days per year, multiplied by the same $6.90 per gram cost to reach its figure of $10.2 million spent on cannabis in the first year of legalization.

The study further extrapolates visitor spending in the first year of legalization, and also after the cannabis industry stabilizes.

In addition to the amount spent on cannabis, new visitors coming to Guam will spend $52.5 million on other related expenses such as lodging, retail, food, entertainment, and transportation, according to the study. That number will rise to $80 million when the industry stabilizes, it states.

In summary, the report lists more than $100 million as the potential direct impact of a stabilized industry, with 754 new jobs supported by cannabis spending. There would be an overall total impact of almost $170 million in direct, indirect, and induced output and labor income, and 1,051 new jobs directly and indirectly related to the industry.

The study, contracted by the visitor agency, was prepared by Tourism Economics, a global advisory firm that provides reports, forecasts, and offers analytical tools on 200 countries and more than 3,000 cities. It has headquarters in Philadephia and Oxford, England, and offices around the globe.

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