By Pacific Island Times News Staff
CNMI issues first license for large-scale commercial cannabis production
Saipan-- The CNMI Cannabis Commission has issued the territory's first producer class III and retail licenses to Saipan Select LLC, officially jumpstarting the commercial production of cannabis in the commonwealth.
Saipan Select's commercial application was among the 20 received and reviewed by the commission, according to the Office of the CNMI Governor.
The producer class III license is the largest of the commercial production licenses the CNMI Cannabis Commission offers. It authorizes the license holder to use a growing area of up to 5,000 sf. of canopy space for the legal planting, cultivation, growth, harvesting, drying and sale of cannabis to licensed wholesalers, processors, retailers, lounges, laboratories and/or research certificate holders in the CNMI.
The commission said Saipan Select also became the first applicant to be issued a retail license under the commonwealth’s cannabis commercial program.
"With the issuance of a retail license, the ability for local residents 21 and older to purchase marijuana legally over-the-counter is now a reality, paving the way for the local industry to start seeing some real revenue generation," states a press release from the press office.
Officials said the commission seeks to create a safe environment for local residents to have an option to consume cannabis legally.
"With the licensure of the CNMI’s first retail establishment, that vision is now a reality," the press office said. "The commission continues to work diligently to promote responsible adult use while supporting our local cannabis operators and ensuring public safety is maintained by means of vigorous education outreach efforts and partnering with the local Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s Office to ensure enforcement guidelines are followed."
Out of 20 applications received by the commission, seven have been issued approval in principle (AIP) letters. An AIP letter certifies that the commission has reviewed the applicant’s submission with the determination that most of the applicant document submissions have been completed and approved for licensure pending the fulfillment of specific requirements in accordance with the Cannabis Commission’s rules and regulations and CNMI Public Laws 20-66 and 21-05.
The majority of the delay in full licensure is pending the establishments’ onsite premises inspections while potential applicants move toward completing construction of their structures.
In March 2020, the commission met its 180-day statutory deadline by adopting its emergency rules and regulations.
In August 2020, the commission opened its doors to begin the intake of commercial and homegrown registry applications.
In March 2021, T-Marianas became the first commercial cannabis licensee in the commonwealth when its approval for a class I producer license was granted by the commission.