Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands legalizes Cannabis
On Friday, Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Ralph DLG. Torres signed the groundbreaking legislation, which legalizes the recreational use of cannabis for the small United States territory. The Northern Mariana Islands is a small group of islands found in the Pacific Ocean, having about 55,000 people.
A signing ceremony was held by Torres for the approval of H.B. 20-178, the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018. Last week, the legislation was approved by the territorial Senate by a vote of 6-0-2 and cleared the House 108-1-1 in August.
Torres said that today, the people of the Northern Mariana Islands made history. Marijuana has been legalized in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for recreational, medical, and commercial use.
Possession, Sales, and Home Cultivation All Legalized
According to the new law, adults 21 and older can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to five grams of cannabis extracts. Adults can also legally possess up to 16 ounces of cannabis-infused products in solid state and up to 72 ounces in a liquid state. Moreover, adults can apply to plant up to six mature and 12 immature plants for personal consumption. Medical marijuana patients are also permitted to grow twice as many plants.
According to the law, adults will also be allowed to commercially produce and sell cannabis. A CNMI Cannabis Commission has to be hired within 30 days to control the marijuana program. The commission will have 180 days to establish and adopt rules for the program after it is formed. The government will be issuing Six types of licenses including producers, testing facilities, processors, retailers, wholesalers, and lounges. The government will accept Applications for licenses when the regulations are in place and shouldn’t be unreasonably delayed or denied.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is the only United States jurisdiction to legalize the sales of recreational cannabis. Every state that has legalized cannabis have utilized the voter initiative process. The possession of recreational marijuana was legalized Vermont state legislature, but not sales.
Activists Celebrate Legalization
According to Lawerence Duponcheel who is the co-founder of Sensible Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team that funded the legalization bill, it is time for a cannabis policy change.
Duponcheel said that they are proud of their governor and the Legislature for putting an end to the failed marijuana policy prohibition in the Northern Marianas and setting up a more sensible regulation system. He also said that they can’t wait to work with lawmakers, the Cannabis Commission, and various stakeholders to swiftly and responsibly establish the legislation.
The director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, Karen O’Keefe stated that different jurisdictions in the U.S. have developed a model for the legislation of recreational cannabis.
O’Keefe applauded the governor, the lawmakers, and the advocates of the Northern Mariana Islands for this historic accomplishment. He also said that it is not easy to accomplish major policy changes, particularly when it means seeing previous decades of propaganda. However, there is still a lot of hard work to be done and hopefully, officials will continue to take a thoughtful and evidence-based approach to establish this new regulatory system. Lawmakers all over the U.S. will take notice and look to CNMI as a reference on how to stop marijuana prohibition and implement an efficient system for regulating marijuana.