Hagatna, Guam, Mar 26, 2019 / 13:38 pm
The head of the Catholic Church in Guam has expressed strong opposition to a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana, which this week has been a center of debate by the country's legislators.
In a March 25 statement, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Agaña, Michael Byrnes, said the Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019 will harm the general welfare of the island.
“Certainly it will adversely affect the common good of our families, marriages, youth, government organizations, businesses and the very identity of our island as a family-oriented community,” said Byrnes.
Bill 32 was introduced by Sen. Clynt Ridgell in January 2019. The bill is currently being debated by lawmakers following a public hearing on the issue.
Byrnes said many of Guam’s people already struggle with substance abuse, and a greater promotion of marijuana will not alleviate the situation.
“While the Catholic Church permits the use of some drugs for therapeutic purposes such as relieving pain and nausea, it is clear about the evils of drug abuse,” he said, warning that many people who use marijuana are seeking an escape from the burdens and responsibilities of life.
Calling the proposal a “false solution” that will only lead to more problems, the archbishop stressed that what Guam needs is for people to be more present and attentive in their various walks of life – as students, employees, family members, and youth.
“Rather than escape, we need engagement,” he said.