Editor’s Note: The first part of this letter was published last Aug. 25, 2017. It is being published in two parts due to its length.
Last of a two-part series
A hemp industry will also be created to produce hemp-based products. Hemp is non-psychoactive (does not make a person “high”) and able to produce about 50,000 products. Fortunately, local farmers will have a rotational crop added to their plots during seasons. From seed oil to cooking flour, these healthy hemp food products can make their way to local grocery stores as well as the public school and senior citizens lunch programs. Later, the hemp industry may expand by producing industrial hemp-based products like fiberboards (plywood/lumber), paper, textiles and bio-fuel for domestic use to offset imported fuel dependency, and possibly, to some extent, some for export.
Let’s not forget the CBD (cannabidiol) varieties for medical applications to treat cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), inflammations and pain, etc.
Since hemp is non-psychoactive and classified as having 0.3 percent THC or less, there are many advantages in not just producing these varieties but in the regulations as well since cultivars with 0.3 percent will not be considered marijuana, but instead, high CBD non-psychoactive cannabis.
The hemp industry alone is a massive opportunity in its own way. Here is a concept: What if hemp can be grown to offset residential power bills? A subsidy program where residents grow hemp and the value of the harvested crop be given as a voucher to be used when paying their utilities. For example: power bill = $300 and voucher value = $150. You pay only $150. Imagine how tangan tangan trees can be replaced with a valuable hemp field.
There are opportunities, advantages and benefits of cannabis that we can harness and the CNMI Cannabis Act will allow us the opportunities to explore and benefit from its full potential. This is not just a medical, recreational, spiritual or agricultural and industrial issue. In fact, the true essence of cannabis legalization has always been a civil liberty issue. It is for the right of an individual to have the freedom of choice to cultivate and consume accessible cannabis for whatever the reason may be, and without the fear of arrest and punishment. Everything else is a secondary merit of its purpose.
Sensible CNMI reached out to Sen. Sixto since the filing of the medical marijuana bill in 2015 leading up to this day, and we will continue to collaborate and assist him and our leaders in accepting cannabis as an option so that we may get this question on the ballot.
It has been a wild ride but we remain positively focused and committed with heart and passion to always go forward and never backwards. We look forward to sharing knowledge in educating and informing the CNMI people regarding the benefits of cannabis and the intentions of the CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018, so that we may be better equipped in deciding for ourselves whether legalization of cannabis is a viable industry worth pursuing. Have a safe and blessed weekend CNMI. Unity in the community. Peace.
Gerry ‘Banzai’ Palacios Hemley
Sensible CNMI/cannabis advocate