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Senate cuts commissioners’ pay in cannabis bill

THE Senate on Wednesday passed House Bill 21-13 which would amend the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 or Public Law 20-66, but not without reducing the proposed annual salaries of the five cannabis commissioners.

The Senate’s version of the bill reduced the commissioner salary from $60,000 to $55,000.

H.B. 21-13, as amended by the Senate, is now back with the House of Representatives.

Special Assistant for Cannabis Industry Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero was in the Senate chamber during the passage of H.B. 21-13.

In an interview after the session, Deleon Guerrero said overall, the changes made by the Senate are acceptable since “we need to be able to move forward and get the bill passed.”

But he was “kind of concerned” about the salary cut for the commissioners because it does not help attract qualified individuals to the commission.

Deleon Guerrero said he hopes that the commissioners won’t resign now that the Senate wants to reduce their salaries.

“I took a look at Senate version. It was big improvement from the earlier Senate version. We consulted with them and they addressed some of our concerns,” Deleon Guerrero said.

“Granting that it is not a perfect bill, I think it gets us the important elements that are needed to be able to move forward,” he added.