Covid-19 in Palau continues to impact the community’s daily life  by putting businesses both private and the public sector  to struggle, as the economy that traditionally flourishes on tourism is on a downturn.

At the presidential debate in June,  four of the  presidential candidates  raised potential source of economy- from oil and gas drilling to online gambling- as well as  creating new policies to increase the standard living of a Palauan individual’s everyday life.

One topic in particular  that was raised as an election  issue is  the investment in marijuana industry as a revenue source for Palau. The  topic was  brought up by presidential candidate and former delegate Alan Seid.

Marijuana is not an unfamiliar topic in Palau,

Mr. Seid is strong supporter of   how marijuana could spur the country’s economy in absence of tourists.

The three other presidential candidates were sought for comments but unable to provide a response as of presstime.

Local physician Dr. Victor Minoru Yano, said marijuana in Palau has always been “illegal but available” as he mentions he prescribes medical prescription of opioids to his patience.

“Marijuana is class number 1 in its abuse potential, and I prescribe it to my patients because it works well for pain. I purchase it online and  from approved, registered medicinal manufacturers. The psychoactive part is not medical and that’s why it is illegal and there’s a control substance act that refers to the components of the abuse potential of the drug and its classification”

“The reason it is illegal but available is because of the ambiguity between the Federal and the state government. The Federal government is not going to limit the states to come up with their own laws. The first state to legalize it was Colorado saying we want to make it recreational and medicinal. Upon seeing their industry boom the other states wanted in on that. The Federal government then made a law to restrict trade amongst them because it illegal.” Says Dr.Yano.

“CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two main components that make up the marijuana plant drug.” Says Dr. Yano

 According  to , the difference of CBD and THC. CBD has many health benefits like relaxation and helps with inflammation, but THC creates that psychotropic “high” or sense of euphoria in the use. 

It added, that the psychoactive high has different effects on different people where it may cause paranoia and that is where it falls under abuse potential and for it to be legal in Federal Law it requires less than 0.3% THC in all marijuana based products.

Liam Fillibert a young voter sees the potential of marijuana business.

 “It would be good for the economy because we seriously need money and  legalizing it would be good  source of income. Making marijuana farms wouldn’t be so hard because our environment is a great place for marijuana to flourish.”

He added that it can also be a source of jobs.

“Many people would be required to maintain a whole marijuana plantation which is a plus side on job opportunities. It can also be a good tourist attraction when boarders do open up. But legalizing would make it more expensive than it is now.”

But some are skeptical of its benefits.

”The capability of control is in question as well as the perception and normalization it will have on our developing youth. I also am not convinced by the marketing and economic benefits of it. We have legalized the medicinal and export use of ongail and have seen no efforts done so towards it.” Said Santy Asanuma, a Senatorial candidate.

(KerdeuUong’s article was made possible through the support of a grant from Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (Pacmas) and Palau Medias Reporting on COVID-19 workshop. PACMAS is funded by Australian Aid.)

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