CHCC not open to dispensing pot

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, seated center, joins pro-cannabis groups and other individuals after signing the bill that legalizes the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana last Friday at the conference room of the Office of the Governor building on Capital Hill. (Jon Perez)

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. emphasized Thursday that it does not look forward to acting as a dispensary of cannabis, both recreationally and medically.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña noted that she is not open to the idea of setting up a cannabis dispensary at the Commonwealth Health Center.

“[Selling cannabis medically and recreationally] contradicts our mission,” she said. “We have to stick to our mission no matter what, even when we look at revenue-generation.”

At the end of the day, the buck stops here when it comes to taking care of people,” she added.

Muña cited studies on the adverse effects of cannabis on the brain of young persons.

In a letter dated Aug. 29, 2018, to Sen. Steve Mesngon (R-Rota) and Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan), CHCC through Muña and CHCC board chair Lauri Ogumoro reiterated their neutral perspective on the bill.

“…CHCC has decided to take a neutral position on the core question of marijuana legalization. However, we cannot stress with enough urgency that policymakers make available in a timely manner the resources and technical capacities necessary for the effective control of marijuana,” Ogumoro wrote to Blanco.

Ogumoro emphasized that cannabis products for consumption should be properly labeled to indicate its potency. Muña later reiterated the same point in a follow-up letter to Mesngon.

“Regulating the production and sales of cannabis, as [the cannabis bill] sets out to do, is a substantial and complex undertaking. To restate previous letters sent to the Legislature on this subject, if the CNMI government desires to legalize cannabis use, it simultaneously accepts the onus of ensuring that only safe, pure, and properly labeled cannabis products are responsibly sold only to those who have reached 21 years of age,” Muña wrote.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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