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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

CNMI cannabis commission urges responsible use of pot

Saipan-- The CNMI Cannabis Commission has teamed up with the CNMI Drug Enforcement Task Force to ensure safe use of recreational cannabis, which is legally allowed for individuals 21 years of age or older to consume responsibly and to utilize sober transportation.

The task force is composed of officers from the Department of Public Safety, Department of Corrections and the Division of Customs Services

“As our community continues to take the necessary precautions to combat against COVID-19, the Commission would like to remind the public that cannabis laws are still in effect and we encourage our community to familiarize themselves with the law as well as the proposed rules and regulations,” said Monique B. Sablan managing director of the CNMI Cannabis Commission. “We are grateful for the partnership with the local Drug Enforcement Task Force as they continue to assist us with enforcing safe, smart, and responsible usage of marijuana items by recreational users 21 years of age and older.”

Pursuant to the CNMI Cannabis Act, persons who are 21 years of age or older or medical marijuana patients are authorized to produce, process, keep or store homegrown marijuana at their household or cultivation site. It is the responsibility of all recreational users to familiarize themselves with the restrictions for cultivating and consuming homegrown marijuana sensibly in the Commonwealth.

The absence of the homegrown marijuana registry system does not prohibit any person 21 years of age or older from cultivation of homegrown marijuana, as long as marijuana is cultivated in accordance with the guidelines defined in the Cannabis Act and the person obtains a homegrown marijuana registry card when made available by the commission.

Under the CNMI Public Law 20-66, as amended in Public Law 21-05, the following restrictions apply:

· A person may not sell homegrown marijuana or plants, marijuana products or marijuana items. Homegrown marijuana is for personal use and is non-commercial.

· Homegrown marijuana plants must be cultivated in a location where the plants are not subject to public view without the use of binoculars, aircrafts, or other optical aids.

· A person cultivating homegrown marijuana must take reasonable precautions to ensure the plants are secure from unauthorized access and access by persons under 21 years of age.

· Homegrown marijuana cultivation may only occur on property lawfully in possession, either by appropriate lease or actual ownership of the cultivator or with the consent of the person in lawful possession of the property.

· It is unlawful for a person under the age of 21 to possess, purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, accept as a gift, or sell a marijuana item.

· It is unlawful for any person to smoke marijuana in the presence of a person under 21 years of age and unlawful for a person to allow persons under 21 years of age to consume marijuana on their property.

· It is unlawful for any person 21 years of age or older knowingly or intentionally to possess:

o More than 1 ounce of marijuana in a public place.

o More than 8 ounces of usable marijuana at a household.

o More than 16 ounces of solid marijuana products.

o More than 72 ounces of liquid marijuana products.

o More than 5 grams of marijuana extracts.

o More than 6 mature marijuana plants.

o More than 12 immature marijuana plants.

· A person may not import marijuana items into the Commonwealth or export marijuana items from the Commonwealth.

· It is unlawful for any person to engage in the use, display, or exhibit of marijuana items in a public place or public property or in the presence of a person under 21 years of age.

o A “public place” or “public property” means a place to which the general public has access and includes, but is not limited to, beaches, hallways, lobbies and other parts of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, and highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds and premises used in connection with public transportation or any property owned by the CNMI or Department of Public Lands.

· It is unlawful for any person to engage in the use of marijuana or to possess marijuana in “marijuana-free Zones”:

o Any government building.

o Any school or school property, whether public or private.

o Northern Marianas College with exceptions for research as may be permitted by NMC.

o Any business establishments licensed to serve alcohol.

o Any federal building.

Public safety officials reminded pot users that marijuana can impair one's ability to drive by affecting your coordination, attention, judgement, reaction time and decision-making skills. In addition to existing CNMI DUI laws, consuming or use of marijuana while operating motorized vehicles on public roads is illegal, punishable by fines up to $500 and/or suspension of their driver’s license up to 6 months for the first offense. A second or subsequent offense is punishable by fines up to $1,000, suspension of their driver’s license up to 1 year or both.

While abiding by the executive directives issued by the administration and the COVID-19 Task Force, the Commission is working diligently to ensure the swift implementation of the commercial rules and regulations with the anticipated reopening of government offices to the public. Commercial applications are currently undergoing legal sufficiency review and will be made available along with more educational material upon the launching of the website.

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