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OPINION: 33 problems with SB 20-62, Cannabis Act (Part 2 of 3)

FIRST, I want to THANK the Senate President and all the Senators for taking into consideration the concerns I raised.

But like anyone I can’t wait to see what they decide and DO. I also want to thank Gerry Hemley for reaching out to me and for expressing the fact that many of the issues I raised are indeed valid but I just wish he would tell it to the Senate in the next Hearing for the record. 

However, I am still concerned with the lack of education about the Bill because I believe it is important for citizens to at least know about the potential problems with the Bill that they may have to live with. The last thing I want to do is to tell the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Governor I TOLD YOU SO if this Bill is not changed to address the valid concerns I raised. But since the question of the Bill being an Act or an Initiative is so critical I will make one final statement. Given there were NEVER any public protest to contest the Legislative Casino Act and the responsible ones were re-elected and even promoted to Leadership then there certainly shouldn’t be any protest to Legalization being a Legislative Act which we know is already far more acceptable. There was also compelling comments in the Senate Hearing on Tuesday for the Senate to expedite this Bill as people are living and dying without ever having access to marijuana products that could ease their pain and even extend their life. Legalization is literally a “life & death” matter that should be taken more seriously and forget the political football game of throwing the issue to the people in an Initiative when it is clear that legalization is NOT going to end but will indeed spread. Furthermore we need elections to be about the candidates but Legalization will be the LEAD item on the political list of most voters distracting the focus on politicians and even putting politicians on the spot to CHOOSE for or against. Only one politician with benefit from it being on the ballot and we all know who that is because Legalization is no longer a political risk for politicians but a PLUS!

The BIG true challenge is to get the Bill Right so we don’t end up doing Legalization like we did with the Casino which overlooked the application of taxes. We don’t need to go “oh, we didn’t address this phenomenon or that critical control or mechanism for the Cannabis Industry” especially when these issues have already been brought to our leaders’ attention. No one ever got a chance to read the Casino Act and No One has virtually read the present Cannabis Act. Its toooo late to educate voters once the Bill is passed or on the Ballot because no changes for improvement can be made. The time to educate people about the Bill is NOW so they can raise qualified and legitimate concerns about the BILL, not asking them to submit what they think when they don’t know what they are commenting on– it’s the Democratic Process driving in reverse! A doctor even testified in the Tue. Senate Hearing that “he hadn’t seen the Bill and didn’t know what to comment on” but you don’t need to be a Doctor to know you haven’t seen a Bill that you are being asked to comment on. Only a handful of people have ever seen or heard anything about the Bill and the most average citizens can know about the Bill is that it is an Initiative and that’s IT unless they have read what I wrote and some learned that it was an Initiative from ME – for TRUE! If Hemley can say I am right about many of the concerns I raised then certainly the Senate needs to make sure they address these concerns.

The 33 Problems with SB 20-62 & the Solutions - (The Second 11)

I have summarized these issues for the newspaper but I have additional facts, examples and rational to support the arguments that I presented to the Senate on behalf of the many VOTERS who agree with me.

XI. Section 117. Purchaser’s Qualifications. ID’s need to be linked to CNMI Data Base. Everyone purchasing marijuana should process a CNMI Free Smoking ID that will serve to eliminate minors, a tracking system and control for accountability”.

XII. Section 118. Limitations Applied. (a) Licensed marijuana retailers and marijuana lounges.   Public Marijuana Lounges is not an acceptable method for public use. The Sale of Marijuana should be restricted to the License Dispensaries not Lounges. The public use should be limited to “Smoke Free Zones” licensed and/or established by the Municipal Councils at Certain Beaches, Hotels, Resorts, Golf Courses, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Tourists Sites and Related Business that do not sell alcohol. The only businesses that will be allowed to serve alcohol and allow marijuana use would be a licensed “Private Social Club” who will not sell marijuana but allow it to be used.

XIII. Section 119. Requiring Identification for Certain Purchasers. A Government issued “Free Smoking ID” is needed which will be used to access the Government’s Data Base for governing, controlling and enforcement of the Cannabis Industry.

XIV. Section 121. The Commission’s Licensing Duties. The Commission is a policy making body and the designated duties in this Bill need to be the responsibility of the entity - “The Marijuana Enforcement Division of Commerce” or whatever agency the Law will establish.

XV. Section 126. Marijuana Lounge License. (a) Marijuana lounges will be Public places selling marijuana with no “governing mechanism, no control and no enforcement” which is not acceptable. Marijuana Lounges should be Private Membership Only.

XVI. Section 127. Marijuana Testing Facility License. Need to Identify Testing Facility role with the Government (a) The creation or acquisition of a Marijuana Testing Facility needs to FIRST be stated in the Law for a “Recognized” Facility as this Facility MUST work with the Government on all aspects of testing.

XVII. Section 129. Child Custody Protection &Section 130. Smoking Marijuana in Presence of Minors Prohibited: Both of these sections do not meet the need to fully protect and educate our children from being “pre-exposed to the use of marijuana.” No “Support Services or Special Marijuana Programs nor funding” in this Bill to help the Public School System and our youth deal with Legalization.

XVIII. Section 132. Multiple Licenses. Duplicate licensees is too ambiguous for accurate accountability. A person only needs one license to cultivate for public consumption.

XIX. Section 139. Administration by the Commission. Commission is a Governing Board not the Administration. The governing who to creates “policy and rules” needs to be segregated from the actual “workforce” like we see with PSS and its Board, MVA and its Board, the Casino and its Commission.

XX. Section 140. Statements by Marijuana Producers as to Quantities Sold is not sufficient to “govern over, control or enforce. Section 141. Estimate by the Commission When Statement not Filed or False Statement Filed. Estimating is just pure “guess work” on the part of the Government that needs to be more detailed and precise in governing, controlling and enforcing.

XXI. Section 146. Marijuana may not be given as a Prize. This is law is counterproductive to the Industry. Limits should be set for Prizes as the Cannabis Industry will need “gifting & winning” Pot as a promotional tool for the Cannabis Tourist Industry. Furthermore, Marijuana should be Gifted, Chen Chule or Bartered with limits because it is going to happen ANYWAY in the villages. Establish an accepted standard such as a limit of 1 ounce which has a minimum value of 255.15 and a maximum value of 510.00 in Colorado depending upon the strain.

Important Note: I am publishing the concerns I raised based on the research I did for the 19th Senate to insure that they won’t be tossed in the trash. If I end up saying I Told You So the People will know for TRUE our leaders threw my concerns in the trash. I also previously warned the Senate that their character and the integrity of the Senate would be tested and the results of the test will be public as readers know what I wrote.