The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres reminded the community yesterday that marijuana use is still illegal in the CNMI, despite the enactment of a measure last month that lifted the prohibition.
The administration again issued the clarification after Saipan Tribune received reports of several marijuana-related incidents in schools the past few weeks.
The administration said in a statement that they have not received any formal incident report from the CNMI Public School System or the Department of Public Safety.
Still, they reminded the public to follow the law. “At the end of the day, PSS knows the law and should report these incidents to [DPS] and the Office of the Attorney General.”
“The governor and DPS have formally come out in official statements emphasizing that it is illegal to recreationally use marijuana until the regulations are promulgated and published. [Also] the law forbids the distribution of marijuana in that form anyway.”
There have been unconfirmed reports that students were found in possession of marijuana when a surprise bag inspection was held, while another incident involved a student getting sick after eating brownies laced with marijuana.
Public Law 20-66 or the Taulamwarr Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 has a provision that a local cannabis commission, which would regulate the new industry, must first be formed and the rules to be promulgated before formally legalizing the use of pot.
The commission needs to be formed within 30 days; the governor would name two appointees, with the municipal mayors of the Northern Islands, Rota, and Tinian also submitting their nominees.
The nominees need to be confirmed by their respective legislative delegations of the four municipalities. Once cleared, the commission then has 180 days to formulate the rules and regulations in the commercial, personal, and recreational use of cannabis.
The law also states that there are places that marijuana use is prohibited, like in government buildings, school or school property, whether public or private, the Northern Marianas College or in any of its properties unless officials may permit marijuana possession or use in its premises for research purposes.
Residents living within 500 feet of schools, hospital, or church are also not allowed to be given the permit to plant marijuana in their homes. Violators will be strictly fined and prosecuted.