Bill to allow use of hemp in NMI goes to Senate

Posted on Jun 05 2019


A bill that seeks to legalize the use of hemp in the CNMI for industrial purposes has passed the House of Representatives and now heads to the Senate for action.

Although hemp belongs to the same plant species as marijuana, it has a lower psychoactive chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC level. Hemp can be used for creating products such as paper, clothing, oil, food, and other products.

A law now exists that allows the use of marijuana in the CNMI.

Rep. Marco T. Peter (R-Saipan), who introduced the measure, House Bill 21-55 or the “Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Hemp Farming Industry Act of 2019,” said his bill merely seeks to reflect the changes in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the 2018 Farm Bill.

That federal law removed hemp as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and provides control of the hemp industry at a state level. This federal law requires states to provide an agency that regulates the hemp industry.

Peter’s bill would allow the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture to regulate the use of hemp in the CNMI.

He believes this could make hemp production another possible industry on the islands. Peter prefiled the bill on May 31 this year.

Hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown for industrial purposes.

Businesses that are interested in hemp production may apply for grants under the Farm Bill, but must prove that their products are within the 0.3 percent THC level.

Peter has already met with the Northern Marianas College—Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services, or NMC CREES, as a possible THC testing site for interested businesses.

Marc Venus

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