The CNMI Democratic Party supports medicinal marijuana but believes that further study should be done before approving recreational marijuana.
According to CNMI Democratic Party chair Nola Hix, the Democrats have reached a unanimous decision that they agree with the enactment of medicinal marijuana but they still have questions about its recreational use.
“We have basically reached a consensus in regards to agreeing with the cannabis bill in regards to the medicinal part. I think there are a ton of questions that have been raised with regards to the recreational part,” she said.
Although many see recreational marijuana as a means of economic growth, there is still research to be done on its effects, Hix said.
“I know that a lot of people see this as economically a great thing but we really need to be prepared. We really need to do some homework on where it’s recreational now—to see what’s happening, what are the issues—because a lot of people have been bringing it up and because we’re such a small island, we need to be prepared to address the stuff moving forward,” she said.
“I know it’s been passed [but] I think there are several concerns from a lot of constituents with regards to the recreational part. We all need to work on addressing some of the issues before we just roll this out,” she added.
Hix is personally concerned about where the money will come from in terms of the Cannabis Commission’s salaries.
“My biggest concern is that they mirrored the casino bill with regards to the commission. The commission that they’re looking to bring on board is going to be paid $65,000 a year. Where is that money coming from? Is that taxpayers’ money and that’s my biggest concern,” she said.
Hix used the casino as an example, According to Hix, if the CNMI struggles with the regulation of the casino, it would be even more challenging to regulate recreational cannabis.
“If we can barely even regulate a casino, what makes us think we are experts in the cannabis field? We want to be. I know Ralph DLG Torres is proud to be the first to get it passed, but we are not cannabis experts, just as we weren’t casino experts,” she said.