The United Nations' World Drug Report 2012 ranks the CNMI second on its list of countries with the highest annual rate of marijuana use, with 22.2 percent of the islands' population having smoked “pot.”
Palau ranked first with 24.2 percent, while Guam ranked third with 18.4 percent.
These three island territories or countries outranked Italy, New Zealand, Nigeria, the U.S. mainland, Canada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Bermuda, Spain and Australia, among others.
Over 10 percent of these other countries' respective populations also smoked marijuana in the past year.
The report covers annual prevalence of marijuana use as a percentage of the population aged 15 to 64.
A copy of the U.N. report is available at http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/WDR-2012.html.
Press secretary Angel Demapan, when asked for comment, said it “is a big concern for the Commonwealth to be ranked in the top three just behind Palau and ahead of Guam.”
“Local and federal law enforcement authorities have been very successful in their operations to raid known plantation areas and seize the illegal plants. The Fitial administration continues to support law enforcement efforts to crack down on all forms of illegal drug use and rid the community from these types of vices,” Demapan told Saipan Tribune.
The U.N. report cited “government source” and “2007” for the CNMI data.
Rep. Stanley Torres (Ind-Saipan) has been pushing for the legalization of marijuana use for medicinal and/or recreational use, but his pieces of legislation have either gathered dust in committees or were just completely ignored.
“I will reintroduce my two bills-one legalizes marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and the other, legalizes marijuana for medicinal and recreational uses. When you legalize marijuana, you get to control the use, and you get to tax the sale, distribution, plantation and use of marijuana,” Torres said in a phone interview.
Torres said he has yet to see the U.N. World Drug Report 2012, but said the CNMI ranking second among countries with highest marijuana use supports his findings that marijuana use is pervasive in the CNMI.
“Even the U.N. report shows it. Why not legalize it?” he added.
The CNMI's population was estimated at 53,883 on April 1, 2010, based on the 2010 Census. Based on the latest U.N. World Drug Report, 22.2 percent of the CNMI smoked marijuana during the reporting period.