HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The Guam Election Commission approved an effort to let voters decide this year whether to legalize medical marijuana.
The certification Thursday will put the question on the November general election ballot. The Joaquin “KC” Concepcion II Compassionate Cannabis Use Act of 2013 would allow for the creation of medical marijuana dispensaries, with regulations and rules to be developed later by a government commission.
The commission and Guam Legislature have been at odds about the issue during the past few months. The commission earlier refused to place it on the ballot, challenging an untested process in which lawmakers ask voters to decide whether a bill should become law.
The certification followed an opinion Tuesday by the Guam Supreme Court that says the Legislature can use its powers for such legislative submissions.
The language in the medical marijuana bill asked the commission to certify the measure as a binding referendum, which requires more votes to pass than a legislative submission.
After much discussion, the election commission certified the legislation as a binding referendum. Referendums are initiated by voters, while legislative submissions are measures referred to voters by the Legislature.
Under Guam law, to pass, referendums must get 50 percent plus one of all voters who vote in the general election. A legislative submission would have required only a majority of votes for passage.
Independent Commissioner Patrick Civille said he was concerned that lawmakers might not have intended to have the higher vote requirement.
“I just want to point out the very big impact this could have on this measure’s passage,” Civille said.
Commission chairman Joseph Mesa said the Legislature knew the voting requirements since the law stated to certify it as a referendum.
“It’s not our position to second-guess what they want to do,” Mesa said.
Sen. Aline Yamashita, R-Tamuning, said she will share concerns with the Legislature. Yamashita is co-author of the act.