Pubdate: Tue, 16 Nov 2010
Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP)
Copyright: 2010 Saipan Tribune
Author: Haidee V. Eugenio


  Sen. Luis Crisostimo (D-Saipan) said he will either propose a
  substitute bill to Rep. Stanley Torres' proposal to legalize
  marijuana for all purposes, or introduce a new bill that will only
  allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. But other senators still want
  to kill the bill during Friday's session on Rota.

Torres (Ind-Saipan), at the same time, said yesterday that if the
Senate rejects his bill, he will introduce a new one that proposes to
legalize marijuana only for medicinal use.

Torres said some senators and even Gov. Benigno R. Fitial have
expressed support for medical marijuana legislation.

"I think that the Senate will consider medical marijuana more," he

Torres found an ally in Crisostimo, who said he supports a medical
marijuana bill. He said other people, including the elderly, use
marijuana anyway for their ailments.

"But now they stopped the treatment because it's been harder to get
marijuana here," he said.

Crisostimo claimed that at least three senators are backing him up on
a substitute bill. But one of the senators he mentioned separately
said yesterday he does not support the bill, especially without
thorough study, while the other two could not be reached for comment.

In a separate interview, Senate President Paul Manglona (R-Rota) said
he is asking his colleagues to reject the House marijuana bill but he
said if there are senators in support of medical marijuana
legislation, then there should be a new bill focusing on legalizing
marijuana only for medical purposes.

Torres' HB 17-45, which passed the House on a 10-7 vote, proposes to
legalize marijuana not only for medicinal but also for recreational
and other uses.

Manglona reiterated the social ill-effects of legalizing marijuana in
the CNMI, especially its impact on the youth.

Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), for his part,
said he thinks the marijuana bill will be defeated in the Senate.

"It's a long shot for that bill to pass," he said.

The governor said last week he would only support medical marijuana
legislation, and that would further depend on how the bill is crafted.

Torres' bill seeks to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana use for
medicinal and other purposes in the CNMI, adding to a list of revenue-
generating bills pending in the 17th Legislature.

"I will not give up on this bill," he added yesterday.
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MAP posted-by: Matt