Is CBD oil legal in the Northern Mariana Islands?

Both CBD derived from hemp and CBD derived from cannabis are legal in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). In September 2018, House Bill 20-178, also known as the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018, was signed into law. This act legalized cannabis and hemp in the Northern Mariana Islands for both recreational and medicinal purposes, making it the first US jurisdiction to go from prohibition to full recreational marijuana legalization. 

According to the act, CBD products derived from both cannabis and industrial hemp are legal for personal use among individuals 21 or older, or those with a qualifying medical condition.

The regulatory body responsible for developing companion legislation for the act is the CNMI Cannabis Commission, which was established in September 2019. The CNMI Cannabis Commission adopted the proposed regulations on June 23, 2020, and the official rules and regulations were published in the Commonwealth Register Volume 42, Number 7, on July 28, 2020. The CNMI Cannabis Commission began accepting commercial and noncommercial applications to enter the cannabis industry on August 4, 2020. 

On May 18, 2020, Ralph DLG. Torres signed House Bill 21-25 into law, creating Public Law 21-25, to legalize and regulate the sales and production of industrial hemp, and to exclude hemp from the definition of cannabis under the Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Acts of 2018. 

What is CBD?

CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in cannabisand the second-most prominent in the plant after THC, the compound largely responsible for producing an intoxicating high. CBD can be sourced either from marijuana or hemp plants and has a wide range of potential therapeutic benefits.

CBD oil dropper
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating substance found in cannabis.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

To date,researchers have identified a number of potential applications linked to CBD, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-anxiety, and anti-seizure properties. Further, the chemical has shown promise in treating numerous health conditions, including seizure disorders, mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis, chronic pain, and many more.

Most raw cannabis strains on the market today contain small amounts of CBD, especially compared with THC. But since the cannabinoid has gained considerable attention for its wide range of purported therapeutic benefits, more high-CBD strains have recently been cultivated.

Why is CBD sometimes illegal?

All types of cannabis, including hemp strains that don't produce enough THC to cause intoxication, were considered illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The law categorized all cannabis as Schedule I, which defined the plant as a highly addictive substance with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. 

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 re-classified hemp as an agricultural commodity and made its cultivation federally legal. Further, the act removed some forms of cannabis from Schedule I status by creating a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, and marijuana refers to cannabis with more than 0.3% THC. This distinction in federal law effectively legalized CBD that is derived from cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, as long as it has been cultivated according to federal and state regulations.

CBD and weed
To meet federal legal criteria, CBD oil must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

The 2018 Farm Bill legislation does not mean that CBD derived from hemp is universally legal throughout the United States. According to the Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the power to regulate CBD product labeling, including therapeutic claims and the use of CBD as a food additive.

The FDA has declared that even hemp-derived CBD may not legally be added to food and beverages, or marketed as a dietary supplement. Although the organization has begun to re-evaluate some of its stances on legal CBD products, the FDA has not revised its regulations. The agency also has been strict in its position against any labeling that could be perceived as a medical claim about CBD.

In addition to the federal regulation of CBD, the Farm Bill also gave states the option to regulate and prohibit the cultivation and commerce of CBD. States may regulate CBD in food, beverages, dietary supplements, and cosmetic products independently, even before the FDA finalizes its policies. There are presently no laws in the CNMI stating that CBD cannot be used as an additive in food.

Northern Mariana Islands CBD laws

The Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Acts of 2018 legalized cannabis and cannabis-derived CBD in the Northern Mariana Islands for recreational and medicinal purposes. The act also legalized the cultivation of both cannabis and hemp, although each industry will be subject to separate rules and regulations. Public Law 21-25 has established the regulations of industrial hemp production separate from the Taulamwaar Sensible Cannabis Acts of 2018.

The act defines cannabis as inclusive of all parts of the cannabis plant. CBD products derived from cannabis, including concentrates and extracts that can be topically applied, inhaled or orally ingested, are legal. 

Hemp is defined in the act as any plant or any part of the plant, growing or not, with a THC concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. CBD products derived from hemp, including concentrates and extracts that can be topically applied, inhaled or orally ingested, are legal, and excluded from the CNMI Cannabis Acts' definition of cannabis. 

CBD products derived from hemp, including concentrates and extracts that can be topically applied, inhaled, or orally ingested, are legal.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Cannabis and hemp will both be regulated by the CNMI Cannabis Commission. The commission is currently in the process of developing rules and regulations to accompany the act. The commission will also be responsible for approving licenses for the cultivation of cannabis, monitoring marijuana businesses, and imposing penalties for violations. 

Local legislative delegations in the Northern Mariana Islands may create their own marijuana regulation laws within their senatorial districts. These regulations may include time and place rules for cannabis use and civil penalties for violations.

Following the 2018 Farm Bill, the Northern Mariana Islands passed House Bill 21-55in October 2019. The CNMI Hemp Farming Industry Act of 2019, now established as Public Law 21-25, distinguishes between hemp and cannabis by legal definition and creates regulations for oversight of industrial hemp production by the Department of Lands and Natural Resources Division of Agriculture. It proposes the establishment of rules for hemp farming that are separate from those of cannabis and reflects federal changes that interpret hemp as an agricultural commodity. 

The CNMI Cannabis Commission has yet to issue any guidelines or regulations regarding the use of CBD in foods, beverages, dietary supplements, or cosmetics.

Licensing requirements for CBD

Public Law 21-25 authorizes the Department of Lands and Natural Resources Division of Agriculture to regulate hemp in the CNMI. Those who wish to cultivate hemp need to obtain a license from the Division of Agriculture and provide a legal description of the land on which the hemp will be planted. Licensees must prove that their hemp crops contain 0.3% THC or less.

Those who violate regulations may be prohibited from cultivating hemp, face fines of up to $2,500, or up to one year in prison.

The Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 outlines labeling and testing requirements for CBD products derived from marijuana. Requirements include the following:

  • Labels must bear a standard symbol indicating that the product contains marijuana
  • Labels must precisely indicate the nature of the contents, composition, quantity, age, and quality
  • Labels must indicate the length of time it takes for a product to take effect
  • Labels must state possible allergens
  • Labels must state the quantity of THC present in a single serving, and the number of servings in the container
  • Labels must include a nutritional fact panel
  • Packaging must be opaque and child-resistant
  • Products that have been tested and comply with the minimum standards set by the CNMI cannabis commission must bear a label reading CERTIFIED. Products that have not been tested or have not met the outlined standards must be marked with a label reading UNTESTED PRODUCT
  • Product testing must take place at a marijuana testing facility that has been licensed by the Commission to certify the safety and potency of marijuana and marijuana products
  • All items derived from marijuana must bear labels stating that the product the FDA has not evaluated the product

Northern Mariana Islands CBD possession limits

The Taulamwaar Sensible CNMI Cannabis Act of 2018 provides possession limits and penalties for marijuana and marijuana products, including CBD products with THC content.

Individuals who are 21 or older may possess and transport up to:

  • one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana; 
  • 16 ounces (453 grams) of marijuana products in solid form;
  • 72 ounces (2041 grams) of cannabis in liquid form;
  • five grams of extracts; and
  • six immature plants.

Those who possess up to double their possession limits face up to thirty days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,250. 

Possession of more than two times the limit, and up to four times the limit may result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2500. 

Violations over four times the limit may result in up to five years imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $5,000.

According to Public Law 12-25, there is no possession limit on hemp-derived CBD products. 

Where to buy CBD in the Northern Mariana Islands

CBD oils, tinctures, edibles, and salves may be found in some storefronts in the Northern Mariana Islands. Ordering online, however, is often the most convenient option for consumers, especially as the CNMI is still in the process of developing regulations for the commerce of cannabis products.

When purchasing from a storefront, particularly if the store specializes in CBD, you can receive guidance from an employee. Explain what you're looking for, your reasons for consuming CBD, and they can point you in the right direction.

CNMI residents can also buy hemp-derived CBD online, usually through specific brands' websites.Reputable brands will generally provide you with essential product details, including the form of the CBD (such as oil, capsules, topicals, tinctures, etc.), the quantity of CBD the product contains, the other chemicals or ingredients present in the product, and more. Find out more about where to buy CBD oil on Weedmaps. 

While many online checkout systems support US-based CBD sellers, some companies like Paypal consider CBD a “restricted business” and don't support online sales. Confirm the website's checkout system before purchasing CBD online.

How to read CBD labels and packaging

The 2018 Farm Bill shifted the oversight of hemp and hemp-derived products from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA does not presently allow CBD-infused food, drinks, or dietary supplements to be sold, and hasn't yet provided regulations for hemp-derived CBD products. 

Still, the agency warns that regulations in flux still require companies to make legitimate claims on their labels. Buyers should nonetheless approach CBD products with caution. A CBD product should clearly state what kind of CBD is used. 

Most reputable CBD producers typically include the following information on their CBD product labels:

  • Amount of active CBD per serving
  • Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients
  • Net weight
  • Manufacturer or distributor name
  • Suggested use
  • Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate
  • Batch or date code

One of the most important things to pay attention to is whether a CBD product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.

Full-spectrum means that the CBD has been extracted from a hemp plant along with all other cannabinoids and terpenes, including whatever trace amounts of THC the plant may have produced. Consuming full-spectrum CBD may yield better results thanks to the entourage effect, a phenomenon in which the mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce a more pleasant experience.

Broad-spectrum means that the product contains CBD and terpenes, but has undergone additional processes to strip out any THC.

Finally, isolate is a product that has gone through more intensive processing to remove all compounds except for CBD. Consuming isolate may produce different effects than full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD, as these products do not produce the entourage effect.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on June 28, 2021.