Lawmakers in the U.S. territory, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), have approved a bill that legalizes marijuana. It was an 18-1 vote.
Lawrence Duponcheel of Sensible CNMI said in a statement:
“The people of the CNMI recognize that the prohibition of marijuana has been terribly misguided and harmful, and our leaders are in touch with the public’s sentiment on this issue. Today, members of the CNMI House of Representatives showed their commitment to honoring the will of the people.”
The island will be the first U.S. territory to change from having all forms of marijuana use illegal to legalizing recreational use. CNMI doesn’t have any marijuana based programs or organizations.
During an interview with a news outlet Justin Strekal, the political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), stated the following:
“The lawmakers and people of CNMI are on track to make history, and more U.S. policymakers would be wise to take notice before the upcoming midterm elections.”
A section of the bill reads:
“Therefore, the Legislature finds that it is in our best interest to move marijuana into a regulated and controlled market for responsible adult personal use, allowing for the creation of jobs and the capturing of a new revenue stream that can be used to fund public safety programs, public school infrastructure and programs, supporting the retirement fund, and other government and social programs, such as drug abuse treatment; furthermore, providing an effective alternative medicine for those suffering from medical conditions; and allowing for the development of an industrial hemp industry here in the CNMI.”
The island hopes that the legalization of marijuana will boost their economy, create more jobs and combat poverty.
Governor Ralph Torres stated the following:
“In the nine states that have legalized marijuana, have we seen an increase in crime? If there is, what is the nature of these crimes? We should look at this and other things. I am concerned about public safety issues.”
If the bill passes, dispensaries will open and will create taxable products.