Advocates hoped that that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) would join Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada in voting on a measure to legalize marijuana this year — but that won’t happen, Marijuana.com has learned.
Sixto Igisomar, a senator in the U.S. territory, filed a bill last month that, if approved by both chambers of the legislature and signed by the governor, would have put a question on ending cannabis before voters in November.
But the last day for the CNMI Election Commission to receive items for this year’s ballot is this Wednesday. While Igisomar initially hoped the bill could clear all the necessary hurdles by then, he now says it’s not going to happen in time.
“The bill will not make it to the ballot this November,” he told Marijuana.com in an email.
But that doesn’t mean the legislation is dead. If and when it passes, the legalization question will be put to voters during the next election.
“We will push it through and make it ready for 2018 or for any special election that may rise before then,” Igisoar said.
The bill provides for a fully legal and regulated recreational market for adults over 21 years of age and allows medical cannabis access for people with doctors’ recommendations.
The CNMI Department of Commerce would license and tax production, processing, wholesale and retail sales of cannabis. The resulting revenue would be used to support drug treatment and prevention services, school infrastructure projects and the commonwealth’s fiscally troubled pension program. A quarter of the revenue would be put into the general fund.
The legislation would also allow individuals to grow up to six mature and 25 immature cannabis plants at home.
In 2010, the CNMI House of Representatives approved a marijuana legalization bill by a vote of 10-7, but it later died in the Senate, and the commonwealth’s then-governor said he was only willing to support medical cannabis.
Last year, Igisomar introduced a separate bill focused solely on medical cannabis but it was stalled due to “local crisis” that required lawmakers’ attention, he said, including a powerful typhoon and the rupture of CNMI’s sole undersea fiber optic cable connecting its communications to the rest of the world.
Read Igisomar’s new bill on the full legalization of marijuana below.[scribd id=319545528 key=key-ltKRQEuFUgTB2cm3mdHl mode=scroll]
Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.