Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas became the first local chief executive to throw his support for Senate Bill 19-106 or the regulation of marijuana in the CNMI. SB 19-106 was pre-filed by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), who is pushing for the personal use and decriminalization of the illegal substance in the CNMI.
San Nicolas said that he had already informed Senate President Francisco M. Borja (Ind-Tinian) that he fully supports the intent of SB 19-106 or the Commonwealth Marijuana Regulation Act, which is proposing to end marijuana prohibition and give CNMI residents access to use it legally.
“I’m giving my full endorsement of the intent of this bill. As a former attorney general, I have seen first hand the economic and social costs of prohibition whether it is from resources spent on arrests and prosecution or the consequences on employability as a result of a single marijuana arrest,” said San Nicolas.
He added that the CNMI’s resources should be diverted in fighting crystal meth or “ice,” which is a far more dangerous and lethal illegal substance. “I believe money spent on the continued prohibition of marijuana is better utilized to stop the sale of crystal meth and rehabilitation of our people addicted to this drug.”
San Nicolas said a lot of arguments have been made from both the pro and anti legalization groups even at the national level. Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use with Guam being the first territory to do so.
“There are merits to both sides of the arguments which I will not rehash here but I am not convinced that the continued prohibition and decriminalization serves a beneficial purpose. The science supporting medical use are significant,” said San Nicolas.
“Four states have fully ended the prohibition of marijuana by allowing recreational use reaping substantial economic benefits. These are notable considerations given the precarious state of our economy and the types of physical ailments that members of our community are suffering from.”
He added that, if legalized, he expects there would be issues and problems in the implementation and enforcement just like in any new regulation.
“These challenges, however, are not insurmountable and should not be an impediment to allowing, at the very least, the people of the CNMI to decide on this very important issue,” San Nicolas said.
Igisomar pre-filed the bill as he wants to legalize and decriminalize personal use of marijuana, which would allow people—especially patients that are being treated with ailments like glaucoma and epilepsy—to carry less than ounce.