March hearing on proposed marijuana bill eyed


Sen. Sixto Igisomar (R-Saipan) is hoping to set a public hearing this March on a bill seeking to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

In an earlier meeting, Igisomar was set to ask the joint Senate and House committees on Health and Education for a public hearing on Senate Bill 19-06, but decided to call it off to allow him more time to study the proposed bill and gather more information.

“My time frame is to have the hearings by March,” Igisomar said, adding that if the House committee chair and members accept a draft version, he plans to request for two hearings on Rota, three to four on Saipan, and one on Tinian.

Igisomar said he has been receiving “a lot of positive feedback from the public” on the medicinal use of marijuana from residents seeking for an alternative approach to costly medical treatments, particularly residents suffering from debilitating diseases.

He said cancer patients often ask for the availability of alternative treatments that are not as expensive as chemotherapy.

However, Igisomar said lawmakers cannot “rush” the proposed legislation of marijuana, as there are other considerations to be looked into. Igisomar said he is in the process of collating data on marijuana prescription, medical uses, existing regulations, etc., before he will seek a public hearing.

The lawmaker said concerns and questions such who is the producer, who is the cultivator, who is the distributor, who is going to prescribe the medicine, among others, will still need to be answered.

For Sen. Arnold Palacios (R-Saipan), the potential use of medicinal marijuana for terminal cancer patients “warrants us to have an open mind.”

He said Guam has passed it, but is still working on regulations. “We don’t want to have unforeseen circumstances,” he said, adding that there will also be a need to “consult with health professionals, and community members regarding the issue.”

Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at

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