Senate committee chair thinks panel to act soon on hemp regulations bill


The Senate Committee on Gaming and Cannabis that is chaired by Sen. Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan) might soon be acting on a bill that would regulate hemp in the CNMI.

Sablan affirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday that his committee might soon be acting on Rep. Marco T. Peter’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 21-55 at their next meeting. The bill would authorize the Department of Lands and Natural Resources to regulate hemp in the CNMI.

All the committee is waiting for, he said, are comments from DLNR, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Cannabis Commission before deciding to act on the bill.

However, judging on the bill itself, Sablan said his committee supports the bill in general.

“With the recent moves [at] the national level, the committee sees the need to have hemp regulated under the DLNR,” he said. “There are certain funding benefits the CNMI can avail of under the local agriculture agency.”

H.B. 21-55 mandates DLNR to create the rules to regulate the production of hemp in the CNMI, including establishing fees and requirements for licenses for production.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 17-0 in an Oct. 31, 2019, session on Capitol Hill.

The legislation also outlines penalties for violations pertaining to the negligence of a hemp producer, which include failing to provide a legal description of land on which the producer produces hemp; failing to obtain a license or other required authorization from the Division of Agriculture; or producing Cannabis sativa L. with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.

Although the legislation does not criminalize negligent hemp producers, the bill states that a hemp producer who negligently violates regulations thrice within five years shall be ineligible to produce hemp for five years.

Hemp producers who willfully violate the regulations shall be punishable by up to one year of imprisonment or a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

A corrective action plan will be imposed on negligent hemp producers, which requires that the producer corrects the negligent violation on a reasonable date, and to submit periodic reports to the Division of Agriculture on the compliance of the hemp producer with the regulations in the last two years.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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