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Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Bill, Making History In US Territory

With a governor’s signature on Friday, the latest place to legalize marijuana in the U.S. isn’t a state. It’s the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)—a tiny Pacific territory with a population of just over 50,000.

Under the new law signed by Gov. Ralph Torres (R), adults over 21 years of age will be able to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as infused products and extracts. Regulators will issue licenses for cannabis producers, testing facilities, processors, retailers, wholesalers and lounges. Home cultivation of a small number of plants will be allowed.

CNMI is the first place in the U.S. to launch a commercial cannabis legalization system through an act of lawmakers—as opposed to by voters with a ballot initiative. Vermont legislators passed a bill to end marijuana prohibition this year, but it only allows for possession and home cultivation, not legal sales.

The territory is also the first U.S. jurisdiction to go from having cannabis totally illegal to allowing recreational use without first having a medical marijuana program.

“I am proud of our CNMI leadership, citizens and national organizations for working together to thoughtfully develop and approve a progressive piece of legislation that that will improve the quality of life for so many,” Lawerence J. Duponcheel, co-founder of the advocacy group Sensible CNMI, said. [Read More @ Forbes]

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