Guam Tourisim Officials Say “Don’t Legalize Cannabis” Asian Tourists Don’t Like It & They Won’t Come Back

Things aren’t going well for cannabis regulation in Guam …

The Pacific Daily News reports…

Tourism officials on Thursday cautioned against allowing recreational cannabis businesses to operate in the island’s Tumon tourist district, arguing arrivals will drop because Asian nations have a different attitude toward cannabis use.

“They don’t complain. They just don’t come back,” Steven Kasperbauer, president of Alupang Beach Club, said during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Guam.

He noted that visitors from Korea could face legal penalties if they violate Korean laws while abroad, such as using cannabis. “The jail time for marijuana can be up to 10 years,” he said.

The concerns were raised as the Cannabis Control Board continues to work on the rules and regulations for recreational cannabis following several public hearings in November.

The Cannabis board met Thursday afternoon and decided to meet again Monday at 1 p.m. to discuss rules and regulations for: cultivation, retail stores, and enforcement and penalties. The Department of Agriculture has prepared proposed changes related to cultivation, said board member Adrian Cruz, who is deputy director of the agency.

One of the biggest issues — licensing — likely will be addressed during a separate meeting on Dec. 28, according to board.

Critic calls cannabis industry study ‘a joke’

An economic impact study, funded by Tourist Attraction Fund through the Guam Visitors Bureau, states the recreational cannabis industry will generate $11.5 million in additional revenue from tourists, bring 31,500 new visitors to the island and create 734 additional jobs.

Mark Baldyga, who owns several tourism businesses, said the study is “a joke” and appears to have been written by a cannabis lobbyist.

“If people are smoking pot or selling it down in Tumon, it will significantly impact arrivals,” he said during Thursday’s Rotary meeting.

The visitor agency, in written testimony last month, asked the cannabis board to prohibit cannabis from being sold or advertised in Tumon in order to preserve the island’s family-friendly image.

Analysis finds net loss of $486M

GVB Vice President Gerry Perez told Rotarians the visitor agency didn’t participate in the economic study, aside from paying for it. The law legalizing recreational cannabis required GVB to pay for the study. Perez said the study didn’t address how the existing tourist market would react to recreational cannabis.

He said GVB prepared a separate analysis, based on its own experience and discussions with businesses, which shows there would be significant drops in tourist arrivals, resulting in a net loss of $486 million and 6,570 jobs.

Guam would lose about 35% of its arrivals from Japan and Taiwan, about 40% of its arrivals from Korea and 100% of its market for school field trips, he said.

Even if the study is half correct, that’s still a $243 million hit to the island’s economy, Perez said.


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