Sablan tells Senate marijuana industry is ‘booming’


CNMI Cannabis Commission managing director Monique Sablan holds a presentation about the commission and the cannabis industry yesterday before the Senate Standing Committee on Cannabis and Gaming chaired by Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (Ind-Saipan). Also in the photo are members of the commission. (Ferdie De La Torre)

So far, since marijuana cultivation became legal in the CNMI, the CNMI Cannabis Commission has received 12 applications for commercial licenses, while another 11 have expressed interest in also securing commercial licenses.

That’s according to commission managing director Monique Sablan yesterday in her presentation before the Senate Standing Committee on Cannabis and Gaming at the Legislature on Capital Hill. She described the new industry as “booming.”

As of yesterday, Sablan said, the total application fees collected from the 12 applicants is $11,250, and that majority of those 12 applications were collected in about one day.

She said two submitted license applications for marijuana producer class 1; four for marijuana producer class 3; one for marijuana processor; one for marijuana wholesaler; two for marijuana retailer; and two for marijuana lounge Both Class.

If all these 12 applications for licenses are approved, that means the commission will get up to another $56,500 in total fees, she said.

“That’s $56,500 since [last] Aug. 4. And I’m a one-man team,” Sablan said.

She disclosed that the 11 others who have also expressed an interest since September and October are the ones she has been meeting with each week who are just trying to understand the licensing process.

Of the 11 potential applicants, four are for marijuana producer class 1; two are for marijuana producer Both Class 3; one is for marijuana processor; two are for marijuana wholesaler; one is for marijuana retailer; and one is for marijuana lounge class 1. The total projected application fees from these 11 interested people would amount to $8,000, she said.

“So it’s really been booming in the sense that people are very much interested despite the current pandemic issues that we’ve been going through, the economic downturn that we’re currently having,” she said.

She said if these 11 are found compliance, that’s another $31,500 in projected total license fee. “And that’s another additional 11 businesses that can open. We’re only talking about the application and licensing fees here. But we’re not even considering yet what are the taxes that we’re going to be able to provide the Commonwealth,” she said.

Sablan said this could be something that’s complimentary to the other industries here, especially once it takes off.

She earlier disclosed that they have already approved nine applications for homegrown marijuana.

The managing director also discussed enforcement and challenges the commission is facing, and other issues in her presentation.

Senate Standing Committee on Cannabis and Gaming chair Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan (Ind-Saipan) called the meeting with the CNMI Cannabis Commission to discuss matter related to its operations.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at
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