A U.S. territory called the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has just inched closer to marijuana legislation.

Legislators in the territory voted by a margin of 18-1 to pass the legislation, that would end the prohibition of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older.

The passage would create a system for marijuana that is regulated and taxed and would make medical marijuana and industrial hemp permissible.

“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. “Today, members of the CNMI House of Representatives showed their commitment to honoring the will of the people.”

If the bill becomes enacted, CNMI will be the first U.S. jurisdiction to go directly from outlawing marijuana across the board to allowing recreational use.

“The lawmakers and people of CNMI are on track to make history, and more U.S. policymakers would be wise to take notice before the upcoming midterm elections,” said Justin Strekal, political director for NORML.

“States that have set up regulated markets for marijuana with time, age, and place of sale restrictions, product testing, labeling, and other precautions relative to providing a safe product for responsible adult consumers, have observed real and significant benefits to public health, safety, and quality of life for all residents,” the CNMI bill’s findings section states.

“Therefore, the Legislature finds that it is in our best interest to move marijuana into a regulated and controlled market for responsible adult personal use, allowing for the creation of jobs and the capturing of a new revenue stream that can be used to fund public safety programs, public school infrastructure and programs, supporting the retirement fund, and other government and social programs, such as drug abuse treatment; furthermore, providing an effective alternative medicine for those suffering from medical conditions; and allowing for the development of an industrial hemp industry here in the CNMI.”

The house-passed legislation bill now goes to the CNMI Senate.

Gov. Ralph Torres (R) doesn’t seem too on board however and asked, “In the nine states that have legalized marijuana, have we seen an increase in crime? If there is, what is the nature of these crimes? We should look at this and other things. I am concerned about public safety issues.”

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