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Northern Mariana Islands In Tizzy Over Marijuana Decriminalization Proposal


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A proposal by the highest law enforcement official in the Confederation of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to consider decriminalizing marijuana has met with a barrage of public criticism, according to the Saipan Tribune. The proposal saw the light of day when the newspaper obtained a copy of a letter from Health Secretary Joseph Villagomez to Attorney General Matthew Gregory addressing a May meeting between the two.

According to the letter, Gregory and Villagomez met to discuss Gregory's proposal to convene a meeting of experts to discuss marijuana's "benefits and lack of harm." In the letter, Villagomez said the Gregory hoped the health secretary would ask the legislature to remove marijuana from the archipelago's list of controlled substances.

That got to Senate Vice President Pete Reyes. "Just the idea that the highest law enforcement of the land is even thinking about it is very disheartening, frightening. It gives the impression that we're so desperate to generate some money that we would sell our souls," Reyes said.

In the wake of the blast from Reyes, a Gregory spokesman denied that he wants to legalize marijuana, but said that he is in touch with people who want to hold such a conference. He also said the administration has not take a position on making marijuana legal in the CNMI, but it approves of an open debate on the issue.

"No definite commitment has been made with regard to this proposal. The AGO will not do anything without the consent of the governor. We support an open discussion. We should let the people decide what they think is right," the spokesman said.

Health Secretary Villagomez, a 15-year substance abuse professional, declined to ask the legislature to decriminalize marijuana, saying he could not ignore the physical and psychological damage that he had seen drugs, including marijuana, cause to people. He also expressed concern that legalizing marijuana would result in more broken families, traffic accidents, and teen addiction, among other things. He noted that DPH would have to deal with these likely consequences. If Attorney General Gregory wants to decriminalize the weed, he should ask the governor to convene a meeting, he said.

"If the governor is onboard with this plan then I respectfully ask the governor to call for such a meeting. Since the Legislature will be the ultimate body that will remove marijuana from the listing, maybe they should be the one to call for such a meeting," Villagomez said.

News Mod: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: StoptheDrugWar.org
Contact: drcnet@drcnet.org
Website: Stop the Drug War (DRCNet)
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