Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is looking to further educate the public on House Bill 20-178 or the CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 that would authorize the regulation and control of marijuana use in the Commonwealth.
H.B. 20-178 is already on Torres’ desk and under review with the help of Governor’s Office legal counsel Gil Birnbrich. The bill cleared its final hurdle in the Legislature with the Senate passing it last month without amendments a few weeks after the House acted on it.
Rep. Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) introduced the same bill authored by Sen. Sixto K. Igisomar (R-Saipan) in the Senate, since all revenue-generating legislation should originate from the House.
Torres said H.B. 20-178 is a critical piece of legislation for the CNMI as it would greatly have an impact on the lives of the community once it becomes a law. “I think the [marijuana] bill would definitely change our lives if it does become law.”
He mentioned that the same thing has happened to states in the mainland U.S. that have passed some sort of cannabis or marijuana legislation. Nine states and Washington, D.C. legalized recreational marijuana use while 30 allowed medical cannabis.
Last year, Oregon generated $85 million on marijuana tax revenues that was used to fund their schools, public health, police, and other local government programs, according to oregonlive.com.
Colorado, Washington State, Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. have already passed laws that tax, legalize, and regulate marijuana use either for medicinal or recreational purposes.
“I would like to do public education on the actual bill itself. What to expect if it does go through? [Discuss] some of the data that the committees had given and gathered,” said Torres, who has until Sept. 23 to either sign the bill into law or not.
“This is a collaborative effort. I know that both the House and Senate held public hearings, which was an opportunity for the community to share their comments on the issue.”
He added that although they are focused on the recovery and relief efforts for Rota, they are also discussing the marijuana bill. “We’re meeting on the [cannabis] issue and I am reviewing the comments made on the cannabis bill.”
A growing number of research and studies show the medical use of marijuana treats pain, nausea, and loss of appetite, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.