Local Bank To Become First To Fully Serve Guam’s Cannabis Industry

A local financial institution in Guam announced this week the launch of a new cannabis division, becoming the first bank in the U.S. territory to serve every part of the marijuana industry.

Bank of Guam announced in a press release on Wednesday that the launch of “Cannabis Banking” will give it a “platform [to allow] cannabis clients the ability to share data from their day-to-day business activities, such as sales, inventory and required licensing documentation.” 

According to The Guam Daily Post, “Cannabis Banking” will make the institution the first in the region “to serve ‘all tiers’ of cannabis-related businesses, or CRBs.”

“It has always been the mission of our founder to serve the underserved and to provide access to safe and secure banking services to our communities. This now includes our cannabis-related businesses. As your partner in growth, we are committed to extending our expertise as trusted financial advisers to this new industry and to allow our local cannabis-related businesses who follow the process and play by the rules, a fair chance to succeed,” Bank of Guam President and CEO Joaquin L.G. Cook said in the press release, as quoted by the Guam Daily Post.

Per the outlet, Bank of Guam will begin this month to “offer deposit and lending services to CRBs in Guam and Saipan legally licensed to engage.” Those CRBs are “organizations or businesses that grow, process, dispense, administer or derive income from selling marijuana products,” according to the Daily Post, which offered the following breakdown of the qualifying businesses:

“(Tier 1) Direct Cannabis-Related Businesses: Businesses licensed to touch the plant directly. Types of direct CRBs include adult use/medical use, retail, processing, cultivation, dispensaries, seed producers, testing, delivery and consumption lounges. (Tier 2) Indirect Cannabis-Related Businesses: Includes industry-specific professional services. Types of indirect CRBs include operations support such as attorneys and accountants, landlords, hydroponic suppliers, packaging suppliers, delivery device suppliers, security firms, cannabis consultants, marijuana testing facilities, employment/payroll providers and cannabis software providers. (Tier 3) Hemp-Related Businesses: Businesses licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture or state regulatory agency to grow, test, or otherwise prepare hemp. (Tier 3) Cannabidiol Businesses: Businesses engaged in the production or sale of hemp-derived cannabinoids intended for human or animal consumption, as regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Guam legalized recreational cannabis in 2019 with the “Guam Cannabis Industries Act,” which, per NORML, “legalizes the personal possession of marijuana by adults, and establishes regulations governing the plant’s commercial production and retail sale.” 

NORML continued: “The law permits those age 21 or older to legally possess and transfer up to one ounce of marijuana flower and/or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. The measure, which took immediate effect, also permits adults to privately cultivate up to six cannabis plants (no more than three mature) in an ‘enclosed, locked space.’ Public consumption of cannabis will remain a violation of law. The Act creates a new regulatory board to draft rules governing the plant’s commercial production and retail sale. The board has a one-year timeline to adopt rules necessary to permit for the operation of licensed cannabis establishments.”

Guam’s regulated cannabis market has been slow to take shape, however. In 2022, it was reported that no one had applied for a cannabis retail license yet

According to the Guam Daily Post, the “cannabis industry has yet to take off on Guam as there have been various roadblocks, including permitting issues that have affected at least one potential cultivator.”

The outlet said that Guam is still awaiting clearance on a crucial testing laboratory. 

“A testing laboratory is integral to developing a commercial cannabis industry on Guam. No cannabis or cannabis products can be sold without being tested for potency and safety. Essentially, without a testing laboratory, there can be no industry on the island under the current regulations,” the outlet explained.

In 2021, Guam’s governor, Lou Leon Guerrero, said that the territory had reached an agreement with a U.S.-based company called Metrc to oversee the cannabis regulatory systems. Guerrero’s office said at the time that Metrc’s “system combines advanced software, radio-frequency identification (RFID), a dedicated customer support team, and a secure database to track cannabis from growth, harvest and processing, to testing, transport, and sale,” and that the company “holds exclusive government contracts in various areas of the United States, including Alaska, California, and Washington, D.C.”

“Over the last decade, we have seen substantial evidence that cannabis has medicinal benefits. With the final review by our Cannabis Control Board on the rules and regulations for the industry, we can more efficiently control recreational use and ensure safe and regulated products,” Guerrero said at the time. “The cannabis industry will benefit our community by funding expanded public services in health and public safety, and providing alternative treatment and rehabilitation for people who need it.” 

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