On 21 September 2018, the Republican Gov. Ralph Torres, of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), signed into law House Bill 20-178[1] as Public Law 20-66 known as the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018[1] which legalized recreational cannabis consumption for adults (over age 21), and medical use of Cannabis in the Northern Mariana Islands.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The cannabis legalization bill was originally introduced as the “Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018,” and was named in honor of David Kapileo Peter or Taulamwaar, who advocated cannabis legalization over four years ago.[4][10]

According to the 2012 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Island (CNMI), a United States Territory, then had the second highest marijuana consumption per capita of any nation or territory in the world, at 22.2%.[11]

Drug Threat Assessment[edit]

The October 2003 National Drug Intelligence Center's Northern Mariana Islands Drug Threat Assessment stated in part that:

Marijuana is readily available and widely abused in the CNMI; however, it is difficult to quantify the extent of marijuana abuse due to the lack of drug abuse statistics and marijuana-related survey data for the CNMI.

From 2000 to 2001 law enforcement eradication efforts caused a decrease in local cannabis cultivation, and distributors had to obtain most of their marijuana from sources outside the commonwealth. As a result, prices increased dramatically. A joint (0.5 gram), also known as a stick, of marijuana sold for an average price of $2.50 from 1997 to 1999 when supplies of locally produced marijuana were plentiful. The price of a joint subsequently increased to $20 to $50. In addition, sandwich bags (nickel and dime bags) of marijuana have been replaced by 1-inch-square, resealable bags containing small quantities of marijuana that sell for $20 to $35 each. Tourists typically are charged higher prices for retail quantities of marijuana than are local residents. At the wholesale level in Saipan, marijuana sells for approximately $1,500 per pound.

As a result of strong eradication efforts by law enforcement, cannabis cultivation in the CNMI is primarily limited to small quantities intended for personal use. CNMI authorities now focus on undercover operations, controlled purchases, and border interdiction.

According to the Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Bureau, marijuana is transported to the CNMI by criminal groups that cultivate cannabis in the Philippines and the neighboring island of the Republic of Palau. Filipino criminal groups typically transport marijuana in cargo containers aboard commercial maritime vessels. Criminal groups from Palau generally pay couriers to transport marijuana concealed on their bodies or packed in coolers. Local cultivators in the CNMI also transport small quantities of marijuana from island to island.[12]


2010 legalization attempt[edit]

In 2010, the CNMI House of Representatives approved a legalization bill to regulate and tax marijuana,[13] but the measure ultimately failed.[why?]

2018 legalization act[edit]

The CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 was introduced to the Commonwealth Legislature in 2017, and was passed by the Senate in May, 2018. On August 8, 2018, lawmakers voted to approve the legalization of cannabis by a margin of 18 to 1, making it the first jurisdiction in the United States to go from direct prohibition to legalization.[14] The bill was signed by the Governor on September 21, 2018.[15]


  1. ^ a b "BREAKING NEWS: NMI legalizes pot". Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads | Saipan Tribune. September 21, 2018. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  2. ^ "Torres looks forward to organized Cannabis Commission". Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads | Saipan Tribune. February 10, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  3. ^ Lopez, German (September 21, 2018). "Republicans in a US territory just legalized marijuana". Vox. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Marijuana bill passes House - Saipan News, Headlines, Events, Ads | Saipan Tribune". www.saipantribune.com. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  5. ^ Angell, Tom. "Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Bill, Making History In US Territory". Forbes. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  6. ^ https://pacificnewscenter.com/cnmi-makes-history-recreational-marijuana-legal/
  7. ^ "CNMI Legalization - NORML - Working to Reform Marijuana Laws". norml.org. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  8. ^ Eugenio, Haidee V. "CNMI legalizes recreational marijuana, as Guam's medical cannabis still not a reality 4 years later". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  9. ^ "Ralph Torres - NMI". February 15, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  10. ^ Drury, Adam (August 8, 2018). "Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Votes to Legalize Marijuana". High Times. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  11. ^ "Top Cannabis-Smoking Countries Worldwide". Business Insider. 2012-06-27. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  12. ^ "Marijuana - Northern Mariana Islands Drug Threat Assessment". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  13. ^ "Weed Bill Would Legalize Use in US Commonwealth". CBS News. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  14. ^ Angell, Tom. "Lawmakers In U.S. Territory Vote To Legalize Marijuana". Forbes. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  15. ^ Angell, Tom. "Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Bill, Making History In US Territory". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-09-21.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document: "Northern Mariana Islands Drug Threat Assessment NDIC".