The Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, just approved HB 20-178, known as the CNMI Cannabis Act.
The Northern Mariana House of Representatives voted 18-1 in favor of the new legislation that would legalize cannabis. Representative Donald Barcinas was the only legislator to vote against the bill, with Rep. Janet Maratita choosing to abstain.
The bill now moves on to the Senate, if approved, it will make the group of small islands the first US-based territory to make the jump from an illegal to adult-use market.
“The people of the CNMI recognize that the prohibition of marijuana has been terribly misguided and harmful, and our leaders are in touch with the public’s sentiment on this issue,” said Lawrence Duponcheel of Sensible CNMI.
Less than 60,000 residents inhabit Marianas 3 main islands; however, more than 500,000 tourists visit Saipan, Tinian, and Rota every year, signaling a potential large international cannabis market.
In previous years, US states legalizing cannabis have typically opened medicinal markets before passing legislation for adult-use cannabis. If the CNMI Cannabis Act passes through the Senate, the Northern Mariana Islands will have laid a new framework for how to legalize cannabis for adult use.
The small islands resting in the Pacific Ocean will only add positive momentum to current legalization efforts, which have recently helped open adult-use markets in Canada, and Uruguay.
As GDP concerns grow for a handful of US territories, expect more local representatives to push for legalization, as early statistics of open cannabis markets reveal nothing but positive economic results.