Marijuana reform has been hitting hard this year with several territories overthrowing prohibition. The House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a U.S. territory, have passed a law legalizing marijuana for recreational use through legislation. This is a groundbreaking move for the territory as it previously had no medical marijuana industry in place. Many regions that have ended prohibition have done so after legalizing it for medicinal purposes first. Legislators of the CNMI have decided, however, to override this process, acknowledging that prohibition was a harmful mistake.
Medical and Recreational Cannabis
The bill would allow both medical and recreational marijuana to be legal in the territory with recreational marijuana legal to those over the age of 21 and medical marijuana available to those with the appropriate doctor’s recommendation. It also allows both adults and patients to register on a Homegrown Marijuana Registry, which would allow them to legally grow their own limited number of plants. This would serve to help children that suffer with ailments such as epilepsy, cancer and autism. Industrial hemp is another area of focus for the new law as it also legalizes that industry.
“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,” Lawrence Duponcheel of Sensible CNMI said in a statement according to Forbes. “Today, members of the CNMI House of Representatives showed their commitment to honoring the will of the people.”
How the CNMI Could Make History
In May this year, the CNMI’s Senate approved a bill that would legalize marijuana. While this bill was approved by the House, it was later stopped as all revenue generating bills must originate in the House. Lawmakers in the House then decided to review the Senate bill and form their own. This bill was proposed last week and approved by Wednesday. It is now likely to be approved by the Senate that already approved a similar law earlier this year. Should it pass, the CNMI would be the first U.S. territory to blatantly end prohibition without first having a medical marijuana infrastructure in place.
Legalization Around the World
The move shortly follows Canada’s decision to legalize the plant on a federal level for recreational use. Earlier this year, Vermont became the first U.S. state to legalize marijuana for recreational use via legislation as opposed to a vote. It became the 9th state to legalize recreational marijuana after Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts. The District of Columbia also legalized the plant for recreational and medical use. 30 states have legalized medical marijuana in the U.S. and Britain followed, legalizing medical marijuana 2 weeks ago.
Marijuana continues to remain illegal on a federal level, under the highest risk classification as a Schedule I drug, next to heroin and LSD. Nonetheless, the most recent polls show that over 60 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and ending prohibition altogether. These results are seen as more and more territories elect to legalize the plant.