Pubdate: Wed, 17 Nov 2010
Source: Saipan Tribune (US MP)
Copyright: 2010 Saipan Tribune
Author: Ruth L. Tighe


Whether or not one believes marijuana is harmful-or less harmful than
tobacco or alcohol-is one thing. Asking people to believe that
marijuana is the solution to the CNMI's collapsing economy is quite

Part 3 of the series of articles appearing under Rep. Stanley T.
Torres' name on "why we should" legalize marijuana-and one wonders who
actually wrote the series-would have you believe that the answer to
all the CNMI's problems would be solved if marijuana possession were
made legal.

"The visitors would come from all over the world to enjoy a safe
haven. Word will spread like wildfire that at last there is a freedom-
loving society that will allow regulated and taxed marijuana use in a
controlled and safe environment. The multiplier effect will turn each
tourist dollar into 3 or 4 more as it circulates in and out of the
CNMI economy," says the article.

"I predict that we might soon see a waiting list form for visitors to
be able to arrive here. We currently have the capability to handle
about 750,000 visitors per year. The limiting factor is hotel
accommodations. I foresee new hotel and resort opportunities on Rota
and Tinian as well as increases in the Saipan inventory of hotel
rooms. Tourism will be booming again and it won't take years; it will
happen quickly. Tinian and Rota will share in the boom this time," it

"Some worry about the few tens of millions that might be lost from the
dole-outs and begging from the U.S. government. I would suggest that
those federal handouts are tiny in comparison to the income that will
be generated by using medical and personal use marijuana as the CNMI's
new import/export industry. I believe that it would become a multi-
billion dollar industry in a relatively short time," Torres writes.

It almost sounds like one of those snake-oil commercials on late-night
TV, and the same caution one should apply there applies here, too. If
it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What does he think will happen to all the graft and corruption that
now mar the economy? Does he not think that that, too, will increase?
How long before enough investors are found willing and able to jump
through the bureaucratic hoops necessary to establishing businesses
here? How long before they acquire enough land to make such a project
cost-effective? Whose land?

What will happen to CHC, once the federal dollars are withdrawn, until
enough marijuana is grown to establish a viable supply, until the
airlines start flying here again, until the predicted additional hotel
space becomes available? How long will that take? In the meantime, who
will provide health care for the people of the CNMI?

Torres claims he does not smoke pot. But one wonders whether whoever
wrote the article does. Dreams are nice. But few survive reality and
this isn't one of them.

Ruth L. Tighe
Tanapag, Saipan
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