Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) has pre-filed Senate Bill 19-106 or an act to regulate marijuana in the CNMI, ratifying it to have the people decide on his legislative measure. SB 19-106 first needs to become law before it could be included in a referendum.
There’s a possibility that SB 19-106 would be discussed in the next Senate session since they have a tight schedule and with the mid-term elections also coming up this November.
“The final version from our end is a bill for an act, and for the bill to ratify to have the people vote on the question on the Commonwealth Marijuana Regulation Act of 2016,” said Igisomar, who added that his bill would answer the CNMI’s need for access to medical marijuana.
“Access for medicinal use, personal use, and commercial use to provide revenue opportunity to our CNMI to support the general fund, for enforcement among others, and funding source to support our hospital, public schools, and retirees.”
Igisomar’s initial draft only wanted to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, but he revised it proposing the controlled personal use and decriminalization of the psychoactive drug that allegedly treats glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, muscle spasms, and reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, and improve the appetite of people with HIV/AIDS.
He said that although several states and Guam have already passed several medicinal marijuana measures, it is not the same in the case of the CNMI. “I believe the critical mass is not present in the CNMI to the extent where it could be economical to enforce, yet affordable to patients.”
That’s why, Igisomar said, the pre-filed SB 19-106 would answer the need of people in the CNMI who are suffering from debilitating diseases. He added the common question nowadays is how to transition from a policy of prohibition to a new system.
“How do we transition from a policy of prohibition to a system of controlling, regulating, and taxing marijuana and industrial help while protecting our children and keeping our communities safe.”
Guam and Washington, D.C. joined 25 other U.S. states that have various forms of legislation that regulates and imposes taxes on the legal and medicinal use of marijuana. Igisomar believes this is also possible in the CNMI.
“Both the successes and failures of these programs has been observed, analyzed, and considered by those who have been enlisted to develop modern day marijuana legislation that can also be done in other places.”
He used Measure 91 or the Oregon Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act of 2014 as an example and an effective model that other states and territories could emulate.
Igisomar said he used Oregon’s marijuana law as a model in drafting the CMRA. “[CMRA] is furthermore informed by eight federal guidelines concerning marijuana enforcement developed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014.”