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Legal marijuana proposed

Saturday 31 January 2015 | Written by Supplied | Published in Guam, Regional

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A bill to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes in the Northern Marianas is taking its first step towards becoming law.

The proposed legislation follows in the footsteps of 24 other states in the US, including the territory of Guam, that have enacted laws to legalise marijuana.

The bill claims that the CNMI must realise that the time has come to legalise the use and possession of marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes, and to remove any associated penalties.

Senator Sixto Igisomar says such legalisation is now less controversial than a few years ago as Colorado and Washington have joined other states in approving marijuana for recreational use.

Radio New Zealand’s local correspondent Mark Rabago says Senator Igosomar is optimistic that the bill will pass.

“Trends in the US seem to favour legalising marijuana –especially in Colorado where people are buying marijuana in open stores, and then neighbouring Guam.

“Even the governor said a couple months back that he’s in favour of this and he’s in support of this bill.”

Rabago says many in the local community also seem to support the move to legalise medical marijuana.

“Quite a number of people are commenting, applauding Senator Igisomar for introducing this, for having the guts – being a freshman Senator, to introduce this very controversial bill.

“We have to see if it gains momentum in the Senate and the house passes it also. So we just have to wait and see.”

Resident Ambrose Bennett says he supports the bill but the state should go further and legalise marijuana for recreational use as well.

“I think we’re trying to take it step-by-step when we know the final step is actually full legalisation. So I’m like, why beat around the bush when the rest of the nation is going ahead and completing the task of full legalisation.”

Bennett has put forward a proposal to the Senate for full legalisation, which points to potential revenues for the state in addition to medical benefits.

He has proposed the idea of a state-owned and operated company that would provide better controls for providing marijuana and would also bring in 100 per cent profits back to the territory.

“The medical bill that’s proposed will have some financial benefit to the government, but the moratorium that I’m proposing – and the way that we should approach it – the government will actually receive all of the income revenues until it is turned over to the private sector, with the exception of the revenues given to the people in the cultivating sector that will be running the operation for the government under the government’s supervision.”

Bennett says a state-owned company with controls and regulations would help prevent marijuana from being exploited in the private industry once it’s decriminalised.