Dear senators: I am respectfully writing this on behalf of many, many citizens in the CNMI who have been asking me about the passage of the marijuana bill. Since the House passed a new bill, I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me about the bill becoming law. The concern that I share with other citizens is that I hope the bill won’t become a political football, with the Senate either changing the bill forcing it to go back to the House or the Senate will sit on the bill because it is political season. In either case, it would be a disservice to the many people who are in support of legalization, not just so people can get high but to finally help the sick, especially those who are dying and deserve the best quality of life possible and to improve our tourism industry and create a new hemp industry that will improve our overall economic plight for the better.
Please don’t sit on the bill as it took the Senate four years just to get a bill to the House and it only took the House around two months to address the bill and even redo it. The idea of nine commission members so Rota and Tinian could control the commission like they do in the Senate was pure politics that didn’t serve in the best interest of the major population represented in our government. “Apportionment based on the populated local districts, towns, cities, states and islands” is the American standard and the most equitable means for representation and to try and change this basic concept of our Democracy is just wrong.
Please don’t be get caught up in trying to change the bill again. I even told the 19th Senate so that their bill should only legalize marijuana and not mention any revenue generating measures and to indicate in the bill that the House of Representatives would need to sponsor a second bill to address the revenues and other critical “start-up funding measures.” Why the 19th and 20th Senate didn’t listen to the person they sent to study Colorado’s cannabis industry is the sad reality of why the House had to fix the bill. The great thing is the House of Representatives did redo the bill and is going to author a second bill. We need this 20th House of Representatives to act on the companion bill to H.B. 20-178, not the next House which could be very different and not as cooperative.
Please don’t wait until after the election to pass the bill as this delay will only serve to disappoint voters who were looking forward to the Senate expediting the bill to the governor. In his State of the Commonwealth Address, the governor just talked about how we must “make it rain prosperity into our economy” and this bill is an excellent example of potential for our leaders make it rain a better quality of life for the sick and dying and for prosperity to rain on all the people in the CNMI.
So please don’t do anything to the bill and just pass it in an expeditious fashion.
Ambrose M. Bennett