Proponents of marijuana legalization can now start their countdown as the Commonwealth Cannabis Commission was officially created Thursday after Gov. Ralph DLG Torres swore into office its five board members.
The Saipan representatives on the commission are Matt Deleon Guerrero and Nadine Deleon Guerrero, while Tinian is represented by Journie Hofschneider, Rota by Thomas Songsong, and the Northern Islands by Valentino Taisacan.
An hour after being sworn Thursday morning, the commission met for the first time to draw lots for their respective tenures (their lengths of service) as well as to decide on who is going to be the board chair.
Nadine Deleon Guerrero was selected as the commission’s first chairperson. She joins Hofschneider and Taisacan in serving the commission for four years, or a full term, while Matt Deleon Guerrero and Songsong would be serving only two years.
“I am very confident that we are going to get work done. Just by judging our chemistry, this is an awesome board. …We have multiple expertise,” Nadine Deleon Guerrero said at the meeting. “We have agriculturists; Journie [Hofschneider] with her experience in cannabis regulations in Canada; we have business administration and financial management experience on the board. With that put together, I [believe] this will be successful and we will be able to do what we need to do in under 180 days.”
With the commission’s first meeting, the 180-day clock provided under Public Law 20-66 starts ticking for the panel to come up with regulations to legalize cannabis use in the Commonwealth.
Torres, however, would prefer it if the commission is able to come up with the draft regulations before the 180 days are up, to at least review the draft regulation as soon as possible, and even by piecemeal if needed.
“Sooner is what the goal is as the governor mentioned earlier,” Nadine Deleon Guerrero said.
“…By March of next year  we should have everything completed and in place for the full regulations. We are trying to beat that deadline, but we are still trying to see what kind of hiccups we encounter as we move forward,” she told Saipan Tribune.
While the Cannabis Commission is set up officially, Nadine Deleon Guerrero emphasized that the public needs to wait for the full regulations on cannabis to be approved before the substance can be used.