Pot bill returns to House committee


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is hoping to get more information on the bill that hopes to legalize and regulate use of cannabis in the CNMI, especially if there’s any relation on marijuana use and crime.

Senate Bill 20-62, introduced by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan), has drawn mixed reviews from the community and has gone back to the CNMI House Judicial and Governmental Operations committee on issues about revenue generation.

Colorado, Washington State, Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Washington D.C. have already passed laws that taxes, legalize, and regulate marijuana use either for medicinal or recreational purposes.

And Torres wants to look into these states and if there’s any correlation between marijuana use crime, the types of crime committed and if there had been any increase.

“We should look at other states that have this in the last 10 years against one year,” Torres said. “What are the crimes that have been committed in the first year? Is there any correlation on the crime that was committed versus the passage of marijuana legalization? If there is, can we detect if those [crimes] are from marijuana use.”

Another concern, Torres said, is if the bill would allow unlimited dispensaries. “Whether that is right or wrong? Is it the right thing to do? And how much are we going to charge for [issuing permits], $50 as against $500?”

“How much would be the penalties for those who are going to be caught selling [illegally]. These are not as easy as we want to. We want to be more stringent. There are a lot of states that legalized marijuana and we should look at those states.”

“That’s why we want to get statistics across the board. It makes it easier to decide whether to support it or not,” said Torres.

He added that further research needs to be done and he also needs to read the full report made by the House and the Senate.

“There are some concerns and I’m sure they [Legislature] are going to make some changes. Again, this is a new industry. There will be changes along the way since there’s no perfect bill.”
“If we have the best interest to regulate it, then I think we’re in the right direction. There are some issues that were raised that the Legislature needs to revisit. If we’re going to do it, we should do it right,” Torres added.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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