Hagatna: Voters in the Pacific territory of Guam have backed legalising medical marijuana, despite opposition from governor Eddie Calvo, early results from a referendum showed Wednesday.
About 56 percent of islanders were in favour of the move, according to preliminary results from the referendum held Tuesday to coincide with a scheduled gubernatorial election, which Calvo won in a landslide.
Senator Tina Muna Barnes, who put forward the proposal, said allowing medical marijuana was not a precursor to approving the drug for recreational use.
"Guam is not ready for that," the Democrat, who serves in the Guam legislature, told the Pacific Daily News. "This is all for the right reasons, lots of families are looking for ways to keep their loved ones out of pain."
Calvo, a Republican, strongly opposed the move and said during the campaign that it raised serious legal and social questions.
He could theoretically block it after being re-elected with 64 percent of the vote, but said in February he believed the people of Guam would make the right decision and that he would not stand in the way of a referendum.
Guam is an unincorporated US territory of 165,000 people. While its citizens cannot vote in US elections they have the right to work in the United States and Washington deals with issues such as foreign affairs and defence.
Calvo won a second term with a convincing win over Democrat Carl Gutierrez, although the Democrats retained control of Guam`s 15-seat legislature with a 9-6 majority.
Calvo`s campaign was boosted by a revitalised tourism industry and a construction boom generated by the impending relocation of 5,000 US Marines from Okinawa.