Cannabis Industry

The Cannabis Industry is a new industry on Saipan. In September 2018, the CNMI legalized medicinal and recreational use of marijuana by enacted House Bill 20-178, which authorize the regulation and control of cannabis use in the Commonwealth. H.B. 20-178 is now known as the Tauamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018. The Act established the CNMI Cannabis Commission as a regulatory agency of the government. The jurisdiction, supervision, powers and duties of the Commission extend to any person who buys, sells, produces, processes, transports, or delivers any marijuana items within the Commonwealth.

As cannabis has not been legalized by all states in the US and not legalized in the federal level, the new Act attracted a lot of investors. Saipan, Tinian and Rota have a lot of raw land which can be used to cultivate marijuana. The soil on the land are suitable to cultivate marijuana. For example, Mollisols, Inceptisols, and Oxisols are the major soil types on Tinian. Most of the soils on Tinian have neutral to alkaline pH and are well supplied with Ca and Mg. Tinian has a long history of agricultural activities.

Also, weather in the Commonwealth are suitable to marijuana plants. As a common knowledge, the more sunlight the plant gets, the more it grows. In the Commonwealth, there is sunshine all the time. The air does not have heavy prolusion and the sunshine will flow on the plants without being blocked by dirty air. The length of the day is close to 12 hours. The islands have a tropical marine climate moderated by seasonal northeast trade winds. Average year-round temperature here is about 84 F with an average humidity of 79%. Marijuana plants can grow on the islands fast and healthy.

Although the marijuana business seems like very profitable and have a great future, investors have to be careful to obey the law when they get into the business. In the CNMI, only licensees and licensee representatives may produce, deliver, and possess marijuana items subject to the provision of the Act. In addition, no licensee or licensee representative may sell or deliver any marijuana items to any person under 21 years of age who does not possess a valid recommendation for marijuana issued by a doctor licensed to practice medicine in the Northern Mariana Islands, or by a country of origin for the non-CNMI resident patient. If the seller has any reasonable doubt of the person’s having reached 21 years of age, seller shall require a valid ID from the buyer.

There are different kinds of licenses under the act, including production license, processor license, wholesale license, retail license, marijuana lounge license and other kind of licenses. Investor need to pick up and apply to the specific type of license so that they can legally cultivate and sell cannabis in the CNMI. Also, the Commission may examine the books and records of any marijuana producer, and may appoint auditors, investigators and other employees that the Commissioner think is necessary to perform the inspection. It is very important for investors to keep good records and receive legal advice regarding their cannabis business.

Attorney practicing in the cannabis industry must have a solid knowledge of local cannabis law, administrative law, transportation law and different kinds of federal rule. Also, the cannabis law is changing fast. Attorneys need to keep their knowledge of the cannabis law up to date.

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