The senator that drafted the cannabis bill believes it is unfortunate that the bill has been delayed anew after the House of Representatives did not push it toward the governor’s desk.
Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), author of Senate Bill 20-62 and its earlier version, S.B. 19-6, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that the House recommitting S.B. 20-62 to prevent further action on the bill is “unfortunate.”
He pointed out that it took a considerable amount of time for lawmakers to realize that the bill was revenue generating—and balk at passing it.
In a two-day session, the House voted to recommit S.B. 20-62, even after the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operation removed several provisions that were deemed revenue-generating provisions.
The House legal counsel, however, maintained the position that the bill as it came out of the Senate contained revenue-generating elements that should only be introduced in the House, according to the CNMI Constitution. Ultimately, the House unanimously decided to recommit the bill to the JGO committee led by Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) and reintroduce the same bill, including the taxes and fees associated with the legalization and consumption of cannabis.
“[S.B. 19-6 and S.B. 20-62] went through all this time [research-wise]. I am sure we could have engaged the House to initiate that bill a long time ago,” Igisomar told Saipan Tribune. He added that he had no problems with the House’s decision to shelve the bill since Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) would be championing the House version of the cannabis legalization and regulation bill.
“As much as possible for transparency and [to comply] with the Open Government Act so that people are not offended, just cite in the findings S.B. 19-6 and S.B. 20-62…so that it can show this bill has gone through…[proper] procedures,” Igisomar reportedly requested Deleon Guerrero after Tuesday’s session.
Igisomar said the request was made so that the bill would not be treated as a new one.