The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island, or CNMI, watched its governor sign a new law recently, permitting adults over the age of 21 to possess marijuana, extracts, and products. It also will permit home growth of a certain amount of marijuana plants, significantly opening up options for the 50,000 commonwealth residents when it comes to marijuana.

Adults over the age of 21 will be able to possess marijuana, extracts, and products as well as grow a certain amount of marijuana plants.

The Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 was approved by large margin votes in both the Senate and House; a 6-0-2 Senate vote and an 18-1-1 House vote resulted in the bill’s progression to the desk of the Governor.

The regulatory agency for all things marijuana and hemp in CNMI will be a five-person committee, known as the CNMI Cannabis Commission. The commission has 180 days from the time it is named to adopt rules and put them into effect, as well as prescribe forms.

Plans are underway to issue licenses for testing facilities, retailers, wholesalers, lounges, and producers in the territory. This will be handled by the five-person commission. Territory residents will also have to join a registry, once it is in place, to grow marijuana at home. However, if they’re on the registry, residents will be permitted to have six mature and 12 immature marijuana plants for personal use. For those who are using marijuana for medical conditions, permission to have double this amount is possible.

This method of legalizing marijuana is a first, since it skipped the step of having the commonwealth residents vote on the legislation and instead saw it passed by legislators.

This is not the only historic step the commonwealth took with this measure. This also makes them the first location to legalize recreational use without first approving use for medical purposes. Supporters within the commonwealth note that this step shows they want to avoid stigmatizing residents and also take pride in creating such progressive legislation.

Supporters of the legalization note the measure is a step in the right direction for the territory, since the attempts to prohibit marijuana were ineffective. Groups like Sensible CNMI look forward to working with lawmakers in hopes of getting regulations in place quickly and efficiently so the process of sales and marijuana use can move forward in a satisfactory manner.

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