Don’t be a sucker for politics


I am learning that a lot of voters still think that the legalization of the marijuana initiative will be on the ballot in November. Sorry to say it but these voters are being played for suckers simply because they were not informed and didn’t know. I contribute their ignorance to the fact that everyone does not read the paper or see the TV news. With the only communication left being the Coconut Wire that political agents can easily mislead and even fail to inform the people about the true facts. But the citizens who are informed actually have a fiduciary duty called “citizenry” to spread the truth through the Coconut Wire and to encourage a friend to tell another friend to spread the truth. If we the people want anything accomplished in government we have to be informed and active citizens which is the founding philosophy for making our democracy work properly. So please spread the word that legalization is not on the ballot as we the people are being played for suckers! The late filing of a bill that is going nowhere for two years if at all is politics for re-election, not politics for the people!

There are people out there who have actually been told that I was against the legalization of marijuana wish could not be further from the truth. I am against the Commonwealth Marijuana Regulations Act (CMRA) for many legitimate reasons. If the senator had truly cared about the sick like he claims his initiative would have been on the ballot, but it’s not. Readers need to know that I was commissioned by the Senate leadership to conduct research and to improve CMRA which I did in collaboration with the Senate leadership. A set of amendments to the CMRA were created that was taken from the Cannabis Act which were the two alternatives to improving or replacing the CMRA but Sixto refused both options even though he knew the CMRA was flawed based on the research.

The idea was to improve the CMRA that had stalled in committee, which is why I was injected by the Senate leadership. The new legislation ended up being called the Cannabis Act to change the conflict with the bill having the same title as the CNMI code. There was a need to avoid ambiguities when referencing and to have a more marketable title for the bill as the Cannabis Act is a more conducive and catchy title for the cannabis tourism industry to market. Unlike the CMRA that was copied from Oregon Law, the Cannabis Act is designed specifically for the CNMI based on direct research on the state laws of Oregon, Washington and Colorado and the recommendations of policy experts at major U.S. universities who project that a direct government controlled system of legalization will be the superior model. The direct government control model offers the best controls, more individual entrepreneurship and the most beneficial to all of society by providing more revenues for the government. A direct controlled system in partnership with the private sector will provide more opportunities for more locals opposed to the CMRA private system that primarily benefits only those who are financially capable to start a business—the rich get richer and the poor stay poor under the CMRA!

The CNMI can’t run and control the cannabis industry with a rotating $100,000 budget as provided in the CMR Act. The cannabis industry is a multi-million dollar industry that is highly technical and is constantly evolving technologically. The CNMI is in a position to make 100s of millions over time even though it will take a million or two for the CNMI to just create the needed infrastructure for the cannabis industry, which can easily be obtained from the additional revenues starting to come in from the casino or through a bond that can easily be repaid. The great advantage for the CNMI is that there are investors from entrepreneurs to pharmaceutical and tobacco companies looking high and low to invest into the marijuana industry.

The CMRA failed to even recognize the hemp industry, which is a separate billion-dollar industry that other states have also failed to capitalize upon. The CNMI can be the first to export hemp products which will also create high-paying manufacturing jobs for locals only as alien workers cannot participate in the marijuana and hemp industries which is another thing the CMRA failed to address. Citizens must also ask does the CNMI want mom and pop operations with the CMR Act or do we want to promote real entrepreneurship for all the small stakeholders in big business operations with the Cannabis Act? Under the CMRA locals will need $1,000 just to get a license to grow for a dispensary and then they must find a dispensary which will hire them or take their crops. But under the Cannabis Act the license is only $100 that guarantees a contract for cultivation once approved—so I ask, do locals want to sign the front of the check as a contractor under the Cannabis Act or do locals want to be an employee who signs the back of the check under the CMRA?

The Cannabis Act is much more comprehensive than the CMR Act in addressing the many, many needs for infrastructure and support systems for legalization. The Cannabis Act offers improved controls over the entire inventory of marijuana and products, a complete administrative and enforcement unit, a youth educational support system and a youth determent program, improved private and commercial cultivation controls, better accountability and collection of taxes, a marijuana information both in the arrival area at the airport, the collection of all fines with a marijuana prevention checkpoint and amnesty box at the airport before leaving the CNMI, and countless other improvement over the CMRA. The CMRA overlooked all the things I just mentioned and it even excluded people with a criminal record from getting a license. Heck, everyone with common sense knows we will need the people with convictions, especially marijuana convictions as they are the best cultivators. In fact, Colorado is faced with a class action lawsuit over this very issue of unfairly excluding people with criminal records from working in the cannabis industries when the state is violating federal law by legalizing marijuana. The CMRA was not well thought out and is full of oversights on the capacity and needs of the CNMI.

The CMRA’s biggest mistakes are: 1.The enforcement of marijuana laws in the CMRA is placed on DPS when other states created separate enforcement divisions or used their existing alcohol enforcement division for many legitimate reasons. 2. The CMRA places the administrative functions on Commerce, which is not setup to enforce regulations as a regulatory entity over the industry(s). 3. The CMRA offers virtually no controls over the Industry, just the expected enforcement monitoring by DPS that most of us know can’t be done by DPS. 4. The CMRA only allows for taxes and fees to be collected which will be negligible and even insufficient to cover cost due to our small tourist market and size. The CMRA missed a lot of very important things beyond these factors however, the Cannabis Act is a much more comprehensive piece of legislation that will be the best fit for the CNMI.

Ambrose M. Bennett

Ambrose M. Bennett

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