Torres set to form pot commission

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is looking to name his two nominees for the five-member CNMI Cannabis Commission within the week and is also asking the mayors of the Northern Islands, Rota, and Tinian to do the same.

The CNMI Cannabis Commission will be tasked to regulate cannabis use in the Commonwealth as stated in Public Law 20-66 or the Taulamwarr Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 208 that Torres signed last month.

“I like to ask the mayors to expedite their [commissioner’s] appointment. We have 30 days from the law to name the appointees. And I hope we can name those appointees within 30 days,” said Torres.

Today is the 18th day since the law was signed on Sept. 21. Mayors Vicente Santos (Northern Islands), Efraim Atalig (Rota), and Joey Patrick San Nicolas (Tinian) have until Oct. 21 to name their nominees for the commission to be formed, as stated in the law.

“I hope the mayors of Rota, Tinian, and the Northern Islands could expedite your names because I already chose mine. And I ask the local delegation to act on it so that we can move forward on the actual 180 days after the commission is established,” said Torres.

He then reminded the community that despite signing the bill into law, marijuana use in the CNMI is still illegal. “It is a very controversial issue. Although I signed the bill into law, that does not mean anybody can use marijuana now.”

“We still have 180 days to address all the concerns and issues, and the same time educate the community. I ultimately encourage and remind the community, it does not yet allow to smoke marijuana.”

P.L. 20-66 has put a timeframe of 30 days for Torres and the three municipal mayors to name their appointees on the commission and for their respective delegations to confirm them. The commission, once formed, will have 180 days to promulgate the rules and regulations.

“We have ample time so that we can start the ball rolling. I also ask the Legislature to act on a forthcoming bill to address the concerns on the law. This is the first step in legalizing it, 30 days to appoint and for the local delegation to act on the names,” said Torres.

“And 180 days to promulgate the rules and regulations and be published at the registrar. They [commission] need to finish [this] in the timeframe. If they do it sooner, then we can exercise our right to smoke [marijuana].”

The law also states that there are places that marijuana use is prohibited like in government buildings, school or school property whether public or private, the Northern Marianas College or in any of its properties unless officials may permit marijuana possession or use on its premises for research purposes.

“We have regulation that you have to be at least 500 feet away from a school, poker arcades is 300 feet. If you live close to the school, if you are within 500 feet, you cannot plant marijuana even if it is residential,” said Torres.

“If you are in a residential area that’s within 500 feet near the hospital, schools, or a church, then you are not allowed to plant. Follow the law and there won’t be anything to worry about. We want to make sure that violators will be prosecuted and fined.”

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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