Saipan Sen. Sixto Igisomar shelved his first version of the marijuana bill and drafted another version, this time to regulate its use for personal, commercial and medicinal use.
He said Senate Bill 19-106 is the improved version of Senate Bill 19-6 and is now with the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare chaired by Sen. Teresita Santos.
A joint public hearing on the bill by the Senate and the House was supposed to be held last week on Tinian, but it was cancelled due to the bad weather.
In an interview, Igisomar said Senate Bill 19-6 was for medicinal marijuana, but Senate Bill 19-106 will allow for the personal use, commercial use and the medicinal use of marijuana.
If passed, S.B. 19-106 will still be placed on the ballot so voters themselves can decide whether the commonwealth should legalize, regulate and tax marijuana by approving the Commonwealth Marijuana Regulation Act of 2016.
Igisomar said S.B. 19-106 aims to eliminate the problems caused by the prohibition and uncontrolled manufacture, delivery and possession of marijuana in commonwealth; to protect the safety, welfare, health and peace of the people of the CNMI; to permit persons licensed, controlled, regulated and taxed by the CNMI to legally manufacture and sell marijuana to persons 21 years of age and older; to permit doctors and their patients to make decisions about the use of medicinal marijuana without undue government interference; and to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework concerning marijuana under existing commonwealth law.
It will also prevent the distribution of marijuana to persons under the age of 21 and prevent revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels.
Earlier, the bill stirred a great deal of public debate, with many proponents seeking for full legalization for recreational use while others denouncing the measure as immoral.
While I continue to support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, I think that the temperament across the country is that full legalization is working in the states that have legalized it, Igisomar said. “The public through our public hearings have expressed their desire for full legalization. I think it would be wise to bring this question to the people to vote on this initiative.”
Again, while medicinal marijuana measures have passed in virtually every state as well as in the U.S. territory of Guam, I believe that the critical mass is not present in the CNMI to the extent where medicinal marijuana legislation could be economical to enforce yet affordable to patients, he added.
Igisomar believes that the majority of the American public now agrees that the war on marijuana has been an abject failure.
In response to the growing call for marijuana policy reforms, Igisomar said many of the countrys top experts in the fields of law enforcement, medicine, economics, substance abuse and other professions have joined forces in order to answer one question: How do we transition from a policy of prohibition to a system of controlling, regulating and taxing marijuana and industrial hemp, while protecting children, keeping our communities safer and improving the overall quality of life for everyone?
He said Senate Bill 19-106 is a consensus measure that is modeled after Oregons marijuana law, which encompasses the recognized best management practices to control, regulate, and tax marijuana and industrial hemp.
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Full Article: Igisomar Reintroduces Medical Marijuana Bill
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