History of CBD and Cannabis: Northern Marianas Islands
As the westernmost territory of the United States, the Northern Mariana Islands is no stranger to the malignant issues of drug trafficking, consumption, and drug related violence.
For decades, the islands’ policy towards cannabis and its derivatives has been molded by American political pressures and persistently high rates of drug abuse.
Cannabis, CBD, and the Northern Mariana Islands
In 2003, the National Drug Intelligence Center released a report on the Northern Mariana Islands, detailing the extent of drug abuse issues that plague the islands.
From the year 2000 to 2001, law enforcement’s arrests of drug offenders and the rate of crop eradication both increased substantially. Part of this was a reaction to the increasing rate of drug use among the islands’ young population, yet a larger part was inspired by sanctions placed by the United States.
Historically, drug crime has run unchecked in the islands since the geography is hard for law enforcers to scout. Typically, small families run an illicit cannabis cultivation operation in secluded areas that are difficult to get to.
However, recent efforts at crop eradication have caused a huge surge in price for personal quantities of marijuana. In some ways, increased crop destruction has created an illicit market that’s even more profitable for criminal organizations.
In the past few years, marijuana was transported to the islands by international criminal organizations rather than supplied by local illicit operations. When a single joint can fetch $50, versus the $5 it would be worth a decade previous, the dividends for international criminal groups are huge.
Recognizing this issue, the commonwealth legislature sought to make changes to the how cannabis would be treated socially, economically, and criminally.
In 2010, the islands’ House of Representatives approved a full legalization act that would both tax and control marijuana sales. However, the bill failed to make it out of Senate due to a high degree of political contention over its potential ramifications.
It would take nearly another decade until the Cannabis Act of 2018 was introduced, finally having passed in mid May. In fact, the bill was so widely supported that it passed nearly unanimously by a margin of 18 to 1. Signed by the Governor into law that September, the bill represented the first time a territory went from complete criminalization to full legalization of cannabis.
Currently, the territory’s government is committed to building a fully state-run program by co-opting several local departments. Through legalizing marijuana, the state expects to see major reductions in the influence of crime syndicates.