Considering that cannabis legalization became the law of the land on the complete West Coast of the United States, significantly of the weed-concerned American public turned their interest to the East and Midwest. But the legalization trend has also continued west of the West Coast. Two U.S. territories, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, legalized cannabis for adult use inside the previous year — and other U.S. territories are quietly generating moves in that path.
America has 5 important territories with partial sovereign rule that fall below U.S. authority, exactly where the residents are citizens or nationals of the United States (but only permitted a vote in the major of presidential elections). Even though physically remote, the U.S. territories are of course nevertheless influenced politically by movements in the 50 U.S. states.
Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero cited the progress of legalization in the United States when she signed the territory’s Cannabis Market Act on April four of this year.
Guam hopped aboard the legalization train a couple of months after the Northern Mariana Islands, an archipelago that dots the Pacific Ocean to the northeast of Guam. In late 2018, “the Northern Mariana Islands” became the answer to a quite precise trivia query: What is the only U.S. state or territory to legalize recreational cannabis with a unanimous vote, as properly as the only Republican-controlled U.S. entity to legalize cannabis sales?
The Northern Mariana Islands are also special in that they jumped straight from criminalization to adult-use legalization, with no opting to legalize health-related cannabis or decriminalize initially.
Nonetheless, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands produced sense as the initially two territories to legalize recreational cannabis. According to the 2012 UNODC Drug Report, the two had been second and third in per-capita cannabis use amongst all nations of the globe, behind only Palau, yet another Pacific island nation.
In the Caribbean to the east, Puerto Rico has a thriving health-related plan, but recreational use remains illegal in the territory. More than 77,000 individuals have signed up on the island of three.two million, and the list of circumstances for which folks can apply to be a patient consists of cancer, chronic discomfort, anxiousness, arthritis and quite a few other maladies. Even though health-related use was legalized by executive order in 2015 and codified into a plan two years later, the movement is brewing for additional action.
In January, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan, called for cannabis decriminalization as a measure to fight violent crime. The Puerto Rican government has also taken the uncommon step of actively advertising health-related cannabis to its residents, launching an ad campaign about the health-related advantages of cannabis with a target of reaching 100,000 new individuals by the finish of 2019.
In the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands, medicinal cannabis finally broke through after voters authorized a ballot referendum supporting a health-related plan in 2014. Numerous instances considering that then, former Sen. Terrance “Positive” Nelson introduced a bill in the Virgin Islands legislature to make a health-related plan — and this year he ultimately succeeded. Nelson’s victory was aided by the election of Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., who stated his help for a health-related plan when he was campaigning. The plan authorizes physicians, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants, naturopaths, chiropractors and homeopaths to certify a patient for health-related cannabis with any of a lengthy list of circumstances, related to that of Puerto Rico.
The outlier amongst the important U.S. territories is American Samoa, exactly where cannabis is criminalized for any use — and the penalties, which start off at a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for easy possession, are some of the harshest about. Discrete customers can reportedly nevertheless get away with it, but they do so at tremendous threat.
The U.S. territories, like a increasing quantity of U.S. states, look totally undeterred by federal prohibition. Emboldened by the accomplishment states have had in establishing health-related and recreational applications, the territories have proceeded in their wake, frequently leaping various intermediary actions that states have traveled more than in the final decade.
In addition to the Northern Mariana Islands going straight to adult-use legalization from criminalization, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands began their health-related applications with a robust list of circumstances, which includes chronic discomfort — a essential detail that assists health-related cannabis replace or preempt opioid use.
The final two years of big progress in 4 of the 5 territories show the energy of the legalization movement, as it operates by way of a lot more and a lot more U.S. states and beyond, into the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Inform US, which U.S. state or territory do you believe will legalize cannabis subsequent?
Initially published in Concern 38 of Cannabis Now. LEARN A lot more