The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres has signed a bill legalizing hemp in the island U.S. territory, Marianas Variety reports. The measure removes hemp as a Schedule I controlled substance in the territory and allows CNMI states to regulate the industry.
Like U.S. states that approve hemp legislation, CNMI states will also have to submit hemp regulation plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for final approval. The law specifically allows hemp to be processed into paper, clothing, textiles, biodegradable plastics, biofuel, oil, food, and health supplements.
The measure includes provisions that would prevent hemp producers who violate the law three times within five years from getting any hemp license for the next five years, according to the Saipan Tribune. The legislation, however, does not criminalize these so-called “negligent” hemp producers, which are defined for low-level violations of the law such as failing to provide a legal description of the land on which the producer produces hemp, failing to obtain a license or other required authorization from the Division of Agriculture, or unknowingly producing plants that exceed the 0.3 percent THC threshold.
Negligent hemp producers would have to file a corrective action plan with regulators, requiring that the producer corrects the negligent violation by a reasonable date, and to submit periodic reports to the Division of Agriculture on the compliance of the producer with the regulations over the last two years.
Producers who “willfully” violate the law can face imprisonment up to one year, a $2,500 fine, or both.
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