Senator hopes cannabis, hemp will ignite economy

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Posted on Jan 22 2020
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The chairman of the Senate Committee on Gaming and Cannabis is pinning his hopes on cannabis and hemp in sparking some much-needed economic activity in the CNMI.

Which is why Sen. Vinson Sablan (Ind-Saipan) looks forward to the Commonwealth Cannabis Commission finally releasing the regulations that would govern the production and use of marijuana and hemp in the Commonwealth.

“We are pushing forward with the [Commonwealth] Cannabis Commission completing the regulations,” Sablan said. “Also…hopefully we can get some economic activity with the hemp industry.”

The use of marijuana has been made legal in the CNMI, with the Cannabis Commission currently completing the regulations for homegrown, commercial, and medicinal marijuana.

“As far as cannabis, we’re hoping that we can spark some economic activity. Hopefully, we get a rise in tourism with that, so we’ll see. It’s a new industry so we’re just going along, crossing our fingers and…doing the work that has to be done to ensure that we make it on the right path,” Sablan said.

As for hemp, House Bill 21-55, or the “Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Hemp Farming Industry Act of 2019,” which is authored by Rep. Marco T. Peter (R-Saipan), is currently sitting in the Senate, awaiting a decision. The bill unanimously passed the House of Representatives in October last year.

H.B. 21-55 seeks to reflect the changes in the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized hemp, and which made hemp cultivation legal for licensed growers. Peter’s bill seeks to create regulations for the hemp industry in the CNMI that is in line with federal requirements.

Hemp is a strain of cannabis that has relatively lower concentrations of tetrahydocannabinol, or THC—the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis.

“Just recently, [hemp] was deemed legal at the federal level so we’re hoping that that would be a big economic boost for us, both import and export. That industry is going to be exciting. Hopefully, it could complement our tourism industry and complement all the other industries that are here,” Sablan added.

He hopes that, once the regulations are done, there will be entrepreneurs that would go into the hemp industry, mostly into extraction of the oils and the medical aspect of hemp.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com
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