Getting legalization right ‘the first time’


Given the people of the CNMI have been waiting over a year since the Senate hearings ended on the legalization issue. We are now in the 11th hour in the time remaining to get legislation on the ballot for the people and it is imperative that the Senate will get it right the first time the bill is voted on to prevent it from becoming a political football with no score for the people. I have no doubt that every senator truly cares about the CNMI and want what is best for the CNMI and the only challenge is making sure the people get the best legislation possible before sending it to the House of Representatives and the governor to meet the “time sensitive” date for the legislation to be on the ballot this November.

After working on this issue publicly and behind the scenes for years, the anxiety of waiting and wondering if they are going to get it right and in time are the very motivating forces for this letter to readers and to the Senate. I do want to make it very, very clear, I am not complaining about the Senate but humbly and respectfully pleading with them to conduct due-diligence in assessing what is truly best for the CNMI based on the facts, the best policies and practices, and proven research along with expediting their decision on the legislation to legalize marijuana. Most people who understand the dynamics of timing in correlation too business and industrial development is everything! The CNMI has only one shot at being first in our region in the Pacific to fully capture the virgin medical and recreational cannabis tourism market worth hundreds of millions to the winner in our region with virtually nothing left in tourism dollars for second and third place. This fact alone should be the primary factor for making sure the right legislation makes it to the ballot in time! Guam and Hawaii are both vying for our region’s cannabis tourism market so do we come in first or dead last as most of us with common sense already know the wisdom of the “early bird getting all the worms”.

I’m sure there are many in the community who share the concerns I’m raising because we have all been teased before by our politics and there is also a genuine desire that the people get a good or even great legislation and not just anything. There is a tremendous desire within the community to legalize marijuana but as an activist on this issue I’m not alone in wanting to make sure the people are not just handed a piece of legislation that is faulty. It should be noted by the Senate that while Colorado has proven to have the best marijuana laws in the nation, even Colorado has been forced to change their marijuana laws 12 times since they were first adopted. Washington even closed down all their medical dispensaries and turned the medical business over to recreational dispensaries for good reason and Oregon and Washington still have a lot of underground sales which is why I’m hoping our Senate has learned from the mistakes of these states as those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the same mistake.

Good luck and God speed senators as the people are depending upon you to deliver exemplary legislation and thanks for any consideration given to this humble and respectful request on behalf of the people who support legalization.

Ambrose M. Bennett

Contributing Author

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