25 Oct 2017
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
SENATORS Frank Cruz and Sixto Igisomar believe that the marijuana bill will move forward based on the support of residents, including those who have showed up at two public hearings on Saipan.
More than 50 people attended Monday night’s public hearing and 20 of them testified on S.B. 20-62 or the CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018, introduced by Igisomar. The public hearing was held at the multipurpose center by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Government and Law, chaired by Cruz.
In the Oct. 17 public hearing held in the Senate chamber, about 30 residents showed up.
Of those who testified on Monday night, only one, Se Ung Baek, a student, opposed the bill. He said marijuana is still considered an illegal drug and should not be legalized.
Vivian Sablan from the Division of Youth Services and Micronesian scholar Fr. Francis Hezel did not say if they support the bill or not, but they expressed some concerns.
Those who testified in the first public hearing reiterated their support on Monday evening. These included Dr. John Doyle, Martin Ezra Teregeyo, Keoni Hosono, Gerry Hemley and couple Jack and Laura Muna.
Rep. Edwin Propst attended the hearing with his wife. He did not testify but listened to the public comments.
Retired educator Ambrose Bennett, urged the committee to act on the bill as soon as possible as there are “many people dying and suffering on island and it’s only cannabis that can help them.”
Those who said they support the bill want to legalize marijuana for medicinal and economic purposes.
Sen. Frank Cruz said the turnout on Monday evening was “overwhelming.”
He added, “Almost all of them are in support and it’s good to see people participating in the deliberation of a very important and sensitive legislation such as this, the marijuana bill. I am glad a lot showed up and participated.”
Cruz said they will hold a similar hearing on Tinian this Friday, and on Rota next week.
Moreover, they will discuss the marijuana bill on a local radio program, he said.
“I am optimistic that this time, the bill will move forward as I know most of my colleagues in the Senate support the bill.”
The author of the bill, Sen. Sixto Igisomar thanked everyone for showing up at the public hearings on Saipan and for expressing their concerns.
He encouraged members of the public to read the bill and to air whatever concerns they may have.
“I believe tonight’s turnout is a lot better,” he said, referring to the public hearing on Monday evening. “I am happy with the outcome and although we have a few opponents, I am glad they showed up and expressed their opinions.”
Asked if he believes his colleagues will pass the bill, Igisomar said: “The reaction I think is highly favorable. In the last Legislature, nothing went wrong, it was also well supported but some people were giving us some negative feedback and there were problems with the bill so we addressed those problems and tried to make it a better bill this time…. As far as the support of the people is concerned, it looks like they are advocating for it.”
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/99558-2-senators-optimistic-about-marijuana-bill