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Last updateSat, 21 Oct 2017 12am

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    Friday, October 20, 2017-2:33:49P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Senate panel approves final version of marijuana bill

THE Senate Committee on Judiciary, Government and Law has approved the final version of Senate Bill 20-62 which will be discussed at public hearings next week on the three main islands.

The bill’s author, Sen. Sixto Igisomar said the committee headed by Senate Vice President Steve Mesngon approved the amendments to the measure which proposes to regulate cannabis in the CNMI.

Sixto Igisomar

Igisomar said the committee will accept comments and recommendations on the bill’s latest version.

After the hearings, the committee will make a decision on S.B. 20-62, Senate Draft 1.

If passed, the bill will be placed on the ballot and must be approved by voters before it can take effect.

The following provisions were added to the bill by the committee:

“Upon approval of this act by a simple majority of the voters in any of the senatorial districts in the election, this act will immediately become law. Provided, that this Act shall not be applicable in the senatorial district where this Act was not approved by a simple majority of the voters in that senatorial district.

“If this Act is not approved by a simple majority of the voters of the Third Senatorial District but approved by a simple majority of the voters in the First and/or Second Senatorial District, the First and/or Second Local Legislative Delegations are authorized to enact local legislation to regulate cannabis in their respective senatorial district subject to the provisions of this Act. Provided, that the local legislative delegations shall establish an advisory Cannabis Board at the Department of Commerce Rota and/or the Department of Commerce Tinian, respectively, to assist in the regulation of cannabis in the First and/or Second Senatorial District. If this Act is disapproved by a simple majority of the voters in all three senatorial districts respectively, this Act will be void and shall not become law.”

The bill proposes to allow the regulation of marijuana for the purpose of medicinal use, personal use or commercial use.

Under the bill, only those who are 21 years old and older will be allowed to use and sell cannabis for personal or medicinal use and for commercial purposes.

The bill’s goal is to regulate marijuana use for responsible adults, 21 years old and older, to improve public safety and the quality of life, health, education and welfare for all CNMI residents.

Once the bill becomes law, the Legislature is authorized to create additional “governing regulations and controlling laws deemed necessary and proper for the government to regulate, amend or impose new fees, penalties and/or taxes, control and enforce the personal use, medicinal use, commercial cultivation, processing and sales of marijuana and marijuana products with governance over the public and private sectors. Provided, however, that the creation of any additional governing regulations and controlling laws shall not in any way contravene or substantially change the intent of the Act as enacted by the will of the people of the CNMI that approved this Act.”

The JGL committee will hold separate public hearings for Saipan, Rota and Tinian on Oct 17, 19 and 27. The hearings are set for 6 p.m. for Saipan and Rota in the Senate chamber and Rota mayor’s office respectively, and 2 p.m. at the Tinian courthouse.