The small United States territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) got one step closer to legalizing marijuana on Tuesday.
A bill to fully legalize cannabis for adult use that passed the Senate earlier this month has now been approved unanimously by the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations (JGO). The next step will be a full House vote.
“The House Speaker will put it on agenda for next session most likely, according to Chairman of the JGO, Ivan Blanco, whose committee adopted it today,” Sensible CNMI’s Gerry Palacios Hemley told Marijuana Moment in an interview.
Lawrence Duponcheel from Sensible CNMI, a pro-legalization advocacy group organizing support for the bill, added that the House committee approved the bill with no amendments.
Part of what makes the bill stand out is the fact that CNMI doesn’t currently have a medical marijuana program, so if passed, it would be the first U.S. jurisdiction to go straight from prohibition to recreational legalization.
What the legislation would permit
- Adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess, grow and consume cannabis.
- CNMI would establish a regulatory system to produce, process and manage retail sales of marijuana.
- Tax revenue from marijuana sales would go toward funding the regulatory system and other government services.
CNMI isn’t the only United States territory that could push forward with cannabis reform. Guam, which currently permits medical marijuana, has also been toying with the idea of full legalization.