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Law North Dakota


Well-Known Member
North Dakota: Governor Signs Measure Amending Voter-Approved Medical Marijuana Initiative

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Bismarck, ND: Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation on Tuesday amending provisions of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act - a voter-initiated measure approved by 65 percent of voters last November.

Senate Bill 2344 makes several significant changes to the law. Specifically, it removes provisions permitting patients the option to home cultivate their own cannabis if they do not reside within proximity to an operating dispensary. It allows for the establishment of no more than two state-licensed cannabis producers and eight total dispensaries. The law permits qualified patients to possess and inhale herbal forms of cannabis, but only if such preparations are explicitly authorized by the recommending physician. Otherwise, patients must obtain cannabis-based medicines via tinctures, capsules, patches, or topical formulations. Edibles and concentrates are not defined as "medical cannabinoid products" under the law.

Patients will be permitted to possess up to three ounces of cannabis or cannabis-infused products, but no more than 2,000 milligrams of THC, over a 30-day period.

The program is anticipated to be operational within a year.

So, let me see if I have this straight. 65% of N.D. voters approved the passage of the MMJ initiative and, almost beyond belief, yet once more the professional political class has decided that they know better and have imposed restrictions in a process outside of the original directly democratic vote.

My only response is to once again encourage voters in this jurisdiction to vote early, vote often, and vote these assholes out of office and make them work for a living. Just my opinion. :-)
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Heavy Interest in North Dakota Medical Marijuana Network
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Nearly 100 groups and businesses in North Dakota have shown interest in producing or dispensing medical marijuana, pleasing state officials who are establishing a network for making the drug available to qualified patients.

The Health Department in June asked those interested in being a part of the system to notify the agency by the end of the month so it could gauge interest. The request drew 97 nonbinding letters of intent, exceeding expectations, according to Kenan Bullinger, director of the department’s medical marijuana division.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to have the ability to have a dispensary in each part of the state,” he said.

North Dakota voters last November approved medical marijuana, and the Legislature earlier this year crafted regulations that Gov. Doug Burgum approved in April. The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act allows the use of medical marijuana to treat 17 medical conditions, along with terminal illnesses. The Health Department will register two “compassion centers” to grow and process the drug and eight more to dispense it.

The Health Department is finishing the process of drafting administrative rules that will cover such things as lab testing, security requirements and transportation regulations. Once that’s complete, the agency will accept formal applications from potential processors and distributers — likely starting later this month and running through mid-October. Unlike the letter-of-intent process, those who apply will have to pay a non-refundable $5,000 application fee.

A committee will be set up to review proposals. It likely will include people with medical, legal, regulatory and laboratory testing expertise.

“It will be a good cross section of backgrounds, both government and non-government people,” Bullinger said.

The Health Department is crafting a scoring and ranking system for applications, fine-tuning information gleaned from other states’ experiences.

“The beauty in all of this, we’ve had a number of other states that have done this in the past,” Bullinger said. “We’ve looked at a number of states’ scoring systems, and how they ranked (applications).”

The Health Department hopes to make final selections by the end of November. That likely would mean medical marijuana would be available by late spring or early summer of 2018.

North Dakota now accepting applications to grow medical marijuana

By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s Health Department on Friday began accepting applications from potential manufacturers of medical marijuana, though it’s still unclear whether growers will need to comply with the state’s anti-corporate farming law.

The application period that ends April 19 is the latest step by state officials who have been developing the medical marijuana system since legislators crafted a law a year ago. That followed voters’ approval of the drug in November 2016.

The state will register two manufacturers. Last summer, nearly 100 groups and businesses submitted nonbinding letters of intent showing interest in producing or dispensing medical marijuana. Potential growing operations that follow through with a formal application will have to pay a non-refundable $5,000 fee.

Related stories
North Dakota for nearly a century has barred corporations from owning or operating farms to protect the state’s family farming heritage. The law does include exceptions for small family farm corporations.

The Health Department has requested an attorney general’s opinion on whether medical marijuana growers will be exempt from the law, according to Jason Wahl, director of the Health Department’s Medical Marijuana Division.

The request was questioned by some lawmakers at a Monday hearing during which the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee signed off on rules covering such things as medical marijuana testing, security and transportation requirements.

During the 2017 legislative session, “we added additional language within the bill to make it clear that these were not considered agricultural operations,” said Rep. Robin Weisz.

Wahl said there is not a “specific” exemption for medical marijuana operations in either the medical marijuana or corporate farming statutes, requiring legal clarification.

The North Dakota Compassionate Care Act allows the use of the drug for 17 medical conditions, along with terminal illnesses. The Health Department hopes to have the drug available by late this year.

The agency last month began accepting proposals from laboratory companies that want to test medical marijuana, and selected a Florida-based company to implement a system to monitor the drug program.

BioTrackTHC submitted a five-year, $600,000 proposal. Negotiations concluded this week, with the state agreeing to pay $560,000 over five years, Wahl said. The state can end the contract at any time after the first two years.

The Health Department will announce application periods for potential dispensaries, patients and caregivers in the coming months.
Well, N Dakota actually allows whole MJ flower and concentrates. Limiting to two growers/processors will inhibit variety and price reduction, perhaps, but maybe that's enough production for this state of 750,000 people. Dunno.


North Dakota Names 2 Firms to Manufacture Medical Marijuana

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s Health Department has selected two finalists to be potential manufacturers of medical cannabis.

Medical Marijuana Division Director Jason Wahl announced on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, the finalists from a field of 19 applicants. Wahl said Pure Dakota would locate their facility in Bismarck, the capital, and Grassroots Cannabis would have its factory in Fargo.

Wahl says the two manufacturing facilities still must adhere to additional requirements before getting final approval.

A seven-member panel made up of health officials, citizens, law enforcement and a state lawyer scored the applications. Applicants had to submit a $5,000 nonrefundable fee.

State officials have been developing the medical cannabis system since legislators crafted a law in 2016. That followed voters’ approval of Initiated Statutory Measure 5, which permitted the drug for medical purposes, in November 2016.

North Dakota recreational pot measure approved for ballot

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana in North Dakota have succeeded in bringing the matter to a public vote later this year.

Proponents submitted more than the required 13,452 valid petition signatures to get a measure on the November general election ballot, Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Monday. Supporters submitted 17,695 signatures last month, and 14,637 were deemed valid, he said.

“The Legalize ND campaign was able to successfully channel the grassroots enthusiasm for recreational marijuana,” said David Owen, chairman of the citizen group behind the petition drive.

The proposal seeks to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older and also seal the records of anyone convicted of a marijuana-related crime that would be made legal under the measure.

Supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana failed on a petition drive in 2016. That same year, North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana, and the state Health Department is in the process of setting up a system for the drug.

Nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Legalize ND believes both of those developments improve the chances that a recreational marijuana measure will pass in North Dakota, generally a conservative state.

“We spend a lot of money imprisoning people (for marijuana). A real conservative doesn’t want to lock up everybody,” Legalize ND spokesman Josh Dryer said.

The measure also shouldn’t require an expansion of state government or additional state spending, he said.

The North Dakota Sheriff’s and Deputies Association believes legalizing recreational marijuana would create more problems for law enforcement in the state, where more than half of drug arrests already involve marijuana, according to statistics from the Attorney General’s Office.

The association in May passed a resolution opposing the ballot measure. Officers worry about potential problems such as more impaired drivers and fatalities, and more domestic disputes. Mental health and addiction treatment facilities also could feel a strain, said Billings County Sheriff Pat Rummel, president of the association.

“We don’t have enough facilities to take care of these people,” he said. “That’s going to have a huge impact, too, of where do we put these people that need to be into treatment?”

The association is meeting this week and will discuss how to oppose the ballot measure, Rummel said.

The anti-legalization organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana also will work to oppose North Dakota’s ballot measure, President Kevin Sabet said.

“Our nation is dealing with a five-alarm fire of addiction right now; the last thing we need is for more states to throw gasoline on it by promoting more drug use,” he said.

Legalize ND is planning to counter the opposition by bringing in members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP. The pro-legalization organization of former and current police officers, federal agents, judges and prosecutors will campaign in favor of the measure, Dryer said.
Dey' some looooong winters in N Dakota. MJ would be absolutely necessary, IMO. haha

North Dakotans overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis

A poll conducted earlier this week found overwhelming support in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis in North Dakota.

The poll, conducted through Polco, asked “Should North Dakota legalize recreational marijuana?” following confirmation on August 13 by Secretary of State, Al Jaeger, that enough signatures were received for the measure to be placed on the November election ballot.

Across all age groups and political parties, the poll found that North Dakotans are overwhelmingly on board with legalizing recreational cannabis. Of the 237 North Dakotans who answered the poll, 79.3 percent support the measure with only 20.7 percent opposed.

“It shows the people of North Dakota see that and actually want this,” said Dave Owen, chairman of the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative. “We are doing really well across all of these groups. It shows we get our message out and we talk to people.”

Here are just some of the more detailed results from the poll:

  • Of the 81 female voters, 60 voted yes with only 21 voting no
  • Of the 155 male voters, 127 voted yes with only 28 voting no
  • Of the likely 69 Democratic votes, only 10 voted no while 59 voted yes
  • Of the likely 101 Republican votes, only 29 voted no while 72 voted yes
  • Of the likely 64 independent votes, only nine replied no while 55 voted yes
  • In the 60-69 age group, 30 of the 37 participants voted yes
  • In the 50-59 age group, 31 of the 46 participants voted yes
  • In the 40-49 age group, 39 of the 50 participants voted yes
  • In the 30-39 age group, an overwhelming 34 of the 37 participants voted yes.
Owen believes the poll results are indicative of what people in North Dakota want to see on the ballot in November. He said that legalizing cannabis in North Dakota will “create more jobs, provide opportunity for those who had been convicted, and finally get people the medicinal marijuana they’ve been waiting for.

“We believe people in ND want (recreational marijuana), we believe they support this. There’s a reason we’ve been able to get this far, and I think this confirms it.”

If the measure is approved, the state law would be amended to legalize “non-violent marijuana related activity” for anyone over 21. Limitations would no longer be imposed on how much marijuana a person can grow or possess and a process would begin to expunge any record of anyone convicted of a crime that would become legal by the measure. The exceptions would be for selling cannabis to minors.

North Dakotans voted in favor of medical cannabis in 2016 but it is still unavailable in the state.
Group formed to fight legalized marijuana in North Dakota

FARGO, N.D. The battle is on over efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota.

That's a measure residents will be voting on, in the November general election.

Today we learn a group is organized and will campaign against it.

The group is called "North Dakotans Against The Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana".

It is headed-up by former Attorney General and District Court Judge Bob Wefald.

They are joined by representatives of law enforcement, the state Chamber of Commerce and an out of state anti-marijuana group called "SAM". That’s an acronym for Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

They say if Measure Three passes it would be bad law.

Specifically the vote no group says it will not be against the law to drive while stoned.

It also says people will be able to smoke marijuana pretty much anywhere and that its distribution would be--for the most part--un-regulated.

Judge Wefald says his group will spend whatever it takes, to see Measure Three defeated.
North Dakota: Medical marijuana program to accept applications for patients

Starting Oct. 29, North Dakota medical marijuana qualifying patients and their designated caregivers can apply to obtain registry cards.

Meanwhile, one of the two proposed medical marijuana manufacturing facilities still awaits state approval, and two of the applicants selected to apply to operate dispensaries in Bismarck and Fargo have not yet received local government approval nor met state requirements.

Under the state medical marijuana program, there will be two medical marijuana manufacturing facilities in Bismarck and Fargo and eight dispensaries throughout the state.

The North Dakota Department of Health's division of medical marijuana has established application rounds for each of the eight regions. Jason Wahl, division director, said he anticipates medical marijuana products will be available to patients early next year.

However, all eight dispensaries are not likely to be open by the time medical marijuana products are available to patients. Cardholders will be allowed to purchase products from any of the eight locations.

"Patients can go to any of the dispensaries, and dispensaries may be offering home delivery services, as well," Wahl said. Bismarck and Fargo dispensaries are expected to be the first to become operational, according to Wahl. It's not clear whether the facilities will be flooded with patients at that time.

"The patient population remains to be seen in regards to the program," Wahl said. "The data from other states' medical marijuana programs that we've had a chance to review typically shows slow growth at the start of the programs." Wahl said, under the current timeline, he hopes to have all eight dispensaries registered by June 30.

"It really is dependent on the real estate transactions and how quickly they're able to have their plans approved by the local government, and also get their renovation work and meet the other requirements under the ... rules for the program," he said.

Finalists to open dispensaries in Williston and Grand Forks will be selected in mid-November, and, in January, the application period will open for the final four regions: Devils Lake, Dickinson, Jamestown and Minot.

The division of medical marijuana plans to print and mail medical marijuana registry cards in December. Patients who apply must submit a nonrefundable $50 annual application fee and provide a written certification, signed by a health care provider, verifying that the patient has a debilitating medical condition.
As fucking cold as it is in N Dakota in their long, dark, winter, IMO the entire state population should qualify for a med card for that reason alone! haha

North Dakota: Marijuana legalization leader said he doesn’t smoke it, but people with hopes knocked down is his driving force

David Owen said he has never smoked marijuana in his life, and he doesn’t plan to if North Dakotans approve a measure calling for the legalization of it.

So why would the University of North Dakota student studying molecular, cellular and developmental biology and political science spearhead the effort to decriminalize the drug? He pointed to stories of residents who had dreams of aspiration -- both large and small -- only to have the chances of achieving those dreams quashed by possessing or consuming a drug that he said shouldn’t be illegal.

“(One person) has a paraphernalia charge and he can’t get work at Simplot. They will not consider him,” he said. He pointed to another man who can’t move up to management in his career as a firefighter because of a misdemeanor possession charge. “You just hear this story over and over again,” he said.

Owen, the chair of Legalize ND, drafted Measure 3, a referendum that would allow anyone who is at least 21 years old to sell, possess and consume the drug in North Dakota. It also would expunge records for for those with marijuana-related convictions.

The measure has gained both support and opposition and is arguably the most talked-about referendum on the November ballot. The effort to legalize marijuana in North Dakota has been a part of Owen’s life for four years.

Owen has spent the last several months traveling around the state on behalf of the measure. He goes back and forth from Grand Forks to Fargo, where the Legalize ND headquarters is located, on a regular basis.

Some have called Owen a champion of the cause, he said, and others have spread rumors, thrown insults and even threatened Legalize ND.

The extremes on both sides have been rare, he said, adding most opponents have been “very civil.”

“You hear a lot of nasty things from people. You just have to get over it,” he said. ‘How hard is being a chair?’ Owen has lived in North Dakota for six years, but his family roots are planted in the region. His grandfather grew up in Hillsboro, N.D., and his grandmother was raised in Climax, Minn.

His grandfather got a degree in aerospace engineering, prompting him to move his family to Maryland for a job with NASA.

“I don’t know if you noticed, but there aren’t many space rockets in North Dakota,” he said. Owen, 25, was born in Maryland, but his family returned to Minnesota for vacation often.

He now studies molecular, cellular and developmental biology, as well as political science. He is looking into a master’s degree in public administration.

He dated his involvement with Measure 3 to when he was 18 years old. He said a friend who wanted to be in the military was at a party that was busted. Officers found marijuana at the party, so everyone was charged, he said.

“When you are not particularly wealthy, you plea it out to a little misdemeanor and you move on with your life,” he said. “He couldn’t join the Army anymore. So that’s someone who wanted to go serve our country in Iraq who can’t join the Army.”

He said he forgot about the incident until he started to see UND students being arrested on marijuana charges. He recalled one person who was given a felony charge for having marijuana within a school zone -- because he lived on UND’s campus.

The person pleaded down but lost his student loans and couldn’t continue school. “Last I heard from him, he was basically a laborer somewhere in town,” he said.

He decided to join the efforts to support a recreational marijuana measure in 2016 under the leadership of Eric Olson, but the referendum didn’t gain enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Olson decided to step down, and the measure needed a new leader. “That’s where I kind of came in,” he said. “I was like, ‘Well … I’ll do it. How hard is being a chair?’ “The answer is very,” he added with a laugh. ‘Not over on Nov. 6’

Polls have been mixed on the measure. One poll published in August by Odney, a North Dakota advertising and public relations firm, said 38 percent of the participants supported the measure. A more recent poll conducted earlier this month on Legalize ND’s behalf stated 51 percent of participants supported the measure and 36 percent were opposed.

Owen said about 60 percent of the people he has talked to through door knocking support the measure. “That’s not using a targeted list,” he said. “It is true knocking the door.”

Along with support, Measure 3 has garnered criticism. The measure is poorly written and would cause problems for the state, the Legislature and people of North Dakota, said Robert Wefald, chairman of North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreation.

“My job is to make sure that fails, and I think we are going to be successful at that,” Wefald said. Wefald said he didn’t know Owen before the rise of recreational marijuana referendum, but he commended Owen, saying he has worked very hard to draft the measure and promote it.

“I think he is a bright and capable young man,” Wefald said. “He is a smooth-talking salesman.” Anyone can say a measure is poorly written if they don’t like it, Owen said.

“The way I put it is, the Lord our Father himself could come down and write a bill, and the lawyers would look at it and say, ‘It is a little poorly written,’” he said.

Owen said he is feeling good about the chances of the measure passing. But his work won’t be done if it passes, he said. “I have to go and make sure in Bismarck that they don’t do medical (marijuana) 2.0,” he said, referring to the extended length of time it took to implement medical marijuana after North Dakotans approved it in 2016.

The law should go into effect Dec. 6 if passed, but Owen said legislators could use several strategies to delay it. “There are a lot of games they can play,” he said. “This is not over on Nov. 6.”
New bill eliminates jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana in North Dakota

Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a bill into law making North Dakota the 25th state in the nation to eliminate the threat of jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

HB 1050 reclassifies possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older as an infraction punishable by no jail time and a maximum fine of $1,000. Previously, it was a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail in addition to a fine. The bill also reclassifies penalties for possession offenses involving amounts greater than a half ounce, and it calls on the Legislative Assembly to “consider studying the implications of the potential adoption of an initiated measure allowing the use of recreational marijuana.” A more detailed summary of HB 1050 is available here.

“This legislation is far from ideal, but it is a substantial step in the right direction,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “It is very encouraging to see a conservative state like North Dakota acknowledge and rectify the injustice of jailing people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Lawmakers can no longer ignore public support for marijuana policy reform, which is growing quickly in every part of the country.”

Gov. Burgum also recently signed a series of bills designed to expand and improve access to medical marijuana for patients registered under North Dakota’s existing medical marijuana law, which voters approved in 2016.

North Dakota Activists Submit 2022 Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative

North Dakota activists are gearing up for a push to put marijuana legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot.

A measure to allow adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate cannabis for personal use was submitted to Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Monday. If it’s accepted, the campaign will be able to start signature gathering to qualify for the ballot.

The same team behind the new measure came close to putting a similar measure on the state’s ballot last year, but petitioning efforts were impeded by the coronavirus pandemic. A separate group of advocates, Legalize ND, also attempted to qualify a different legalization initiative in 2020 that would have allowed retail sales but excluded a home grow option.

The newly submitted proposal would make it so adults would be allowed to possess cannabis and grow up to 12 plants (up to six of which could be mature). It also contains a provision stating that the legislature could later enact regulations to allow for a commercial market.

Previously, a 2018 legalization push that did qualify for the ballot was defeated by voters. Voters in the state did approve a measure to legalize medical cannabis in 2016, though the law was scaled down by the legislature the following year.

Looking ahead, activists are confident that they will have the time, resources and public support to get the job done this round. To succeed, they will need to collect 26,904 valid signatures from registered voters.

Jody Vetters, chair of the campaign that submitted the new proposal on Monday, told Marijuana Moment that this measure represents “a happy medium to appease both sides,” compared to the 2018 proposal.

“It’s time for cannabis to come out of the closet,” she said.

Vetters told the Grand Forks Herald that her team came about 2,000 signatures short of qualifying last year.

Jaeger’s office said it will be reviewing the petition and expects to make a decision about approving the language for petitioning next week.

Meanwhile, activists with the separate Legalize ND group have said they are also considering trying to qualify their own marijuana measure for North Dakota’s midterm ballot next year.

While activists are skeptical that the legislature has the appetite to enact the policy change on their own, it is the case that lawmakers may feel increased pressure given that voters in neighboring South Dakota and Montana elected to legalize cannabis in November.

There are also a slew of other states where advocates are considering pursuing reform in 2022 via the ballot, and campaigns are already collecting signatures for cannabis measures in Idaho and South Dakota.

In the meantime, activists are pushing legislative action to legalize marijuana in a number of states this year.

Read the 2022 North Dakota marijuana legalization proposal by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.

North Dakota Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee

A bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota that’s being sponsored by a Republican lawmaker who personally opposes the policy change advanced through a House committee on Wednesday.

The legislation, HB 1420, would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use, but home cultivation would not be allowed.

While some advocates see that as a step in the right direction, the motivation behind the measure’s introduction seems to be to preempt attempts by activists to enact a more far-reaching proposal via the ballot.

The House Human Services Committee narrowly approved the bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Dockter (R), in a 7-6 vote, with one abstention. It’s expected to next go to the Appropriations Committee before potentially receiving floor consideration. This development comes days after a separate House panel cleared a bill to expand the state’s existing marijuana decriminalization law.

The legalization legislation calls for legal cannabis sales to begin on July 1, 2022.

Members of the panel accepted the legislation with a series of amendments, many of which were technical in nature. The main revision adopts regulations from the state’s medical cannabis program to allow existing dispensaries to sell products for adult use. People aged 21 and older would be able to purchase up to 21 grams of marijuana twice a month, but they couldn’t possess more than an ounce at a time.

Definitional changes were made for the term “marijuana,” while “hashish” was removed from the proposal. The definition of THC was revised to exclude that derived from industrial hemp. Penalties for underage possession were also revised, making it an infraction for a person under 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and a class B misdemeanor to possess more than an ounce but less than two ounces.

According to the Associated Press, separate legislation is being prepared that would establish the tax structure for a recreational marijuana market. It remains to be seen when that will be filed or whether it will be incorporated into the existing bill as a committee or floor amendment.

During Wednesday’s meeting, certain legislators expressed skepticism about enacting adult-use legalization but said that they would prefer for the legislature to set the rules, rather than having legalization approved by voters via an initiated constitutional amendment through the ballot.

A separate resolution to put the issue before voters as a referendum was rejected by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week.

An activist group has already filed its own 2022 legal marijuana measure that would make it so adults could possess marijuana and grow up to 12 plants (up to six of which could be mature). Secretary of State Al Jaeger said last month that the group can begin working to gather the 26,904 valid signatures from registered voters they will need to place the measure on the ballot.

For his part, Dockter has said that he recognizes the seeming inevitability of legal marijuana reaching the state as more neighboring jurisdictions enact reform and as activists gain momentum for their agenda. If the state is going to enact legalization, he wants the legislature to dictate what that program looks like instead of leaving it in the hands of advocacy groups.

Dockter’s bill is being supported by the pro-reform campaign Legalize ND. That group placed a legalization measure on the 2018 ballot that was defeated by voters. They tried to qualify another initiative last year but signature gathering complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

Meanwhile, a bill to significantly expand marijuana decriminalization in North Dakota cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. But its sponsor, Rep. Shannon Roers Jones (R), said she would recommend that lawmakers reject it if broader legalization legislation is approved.

Her bill would build on an initial marijuana decriminalization law that was enacted in 2019. Under the current statute, possession of half an ounce or less of cannabis is an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, with no jail time. The new proposal would make possession of up to an ounce a non-criminal offense that carries a $50 fine

House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R) has said that he’s not “a marijuana person,” but he’s acknowledged that cannabis legalization is coming. While he would have previously been inclined to oppose Dockter’s bill, Pollert said voter approval of a legalization initiative in South Dakota has given him pause, adding that the legislature should “take a long, hard look” at the policy change.

That said, a South Dakota state judge ruled this month that last year’s voter-approved legalization initiative is unconstitutional and cannot go forward—though advocates plan to appeal.

Neighboring Montana also moved to legalize marijuana for adult use during the November election, adding to the regional pressure to get on board. Canada, which also borders the state, has a national legal cannabis market.

North Dakota voters approved a medical cannabis ballot measure in 2016.

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Bill Receives First Senate Committee Hearing Following House Passage

A bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota that passed the House last month received its first hearing in a Senate committee on Monday, with debate centering mostly on who should shape the policy change that most observers increasingly see as inevitable: the legislature or voters.

With activists already mounting a signature gathering campaign to place a ballot initiative before voters in 2022 that would amend the state Constitution to legalize cannabis for adult use, legislators are now faced with a quandary. They could wait and see how that process unfolds, or they can advance more restrictive reform legislation sponsored by a Republican lawmaker who doesn’t even personally support ending prohibition.

That bill, led by Rep. Jason Dockter (R), narrowly passed the House. The Senate Human Services Committee took it up Monday, hearing from supporters, opponents and neutral parties alike. The panel didn’t vote on the measure, but the testimony offered a preview of the discussion that’s to be had over the coming weeks.

“I’ve said several times I’ve never smoked marijuana. I don’t believe in marijuana. But I also believe that I’d rather have us have good legislation than to put it in the Constitution,” Dockter said in opening comments. “I believe it’s the job of our lawmakers to have good policy, even if you don’t agree with what the topic that the bill has in it.”

Reform advocates might not agree that it’s ideal policy that the representative is putting forward, but it would certainly be a step forward. HB 1420 would allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use, but home cultivation would not be allowed, for example.

The sponsor said he “want to be proactive,” and that “a lot of times, we’re reactive in government.” He added that there’s a need “to have the regulations that makes [recreational legalization] as safe and as restrictive as possible, but still allowing it,” and his bill would accomplish that. “If we don’t do it now, it’s going to come through an initiated measure,” he said.

David Owen, chairman of the pro-reform group Legalize ND, testified in favor of the legislation. He said that “a majority of North Dakotans want this” and “the legislature isn’t representing the people on this issue.” So if lawmakers fail to act, voters will decide on their own via the ballot.

He also discussed how activists might not have pursued a constitutional, rather than statutory, measure. But because opposition is bringing in money from national groups and there’s a lack of trust the legislature wouldn’t seek to undermine any voter-approved ballot measure as has happened in other states, he said there’s a need to go that route.

“In a perfect world where everyone was acting in good faith, you would 100 percent do it in statute,” Owen said. “But when there’s a fear that one side isn’t going to act in good faith, that’s how things get in the Constitution.”

Legalize ND placed a legalization measure on the 2018 ballot that was defeated by voters. They tried to qualify another initiative last year but signature gathering complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

The state assistant attorney general also participated in Monday’s hearing, giving a section-by-section analysis of HB 1420.

North Dakota Senators Move To Put Marijuana On 2022 Ballot After Killing Legalization Bill

A bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota might have been rejected by the Senate last week after being approved by the House, but a Republican senator has a new plan to enact cannabis reform: put the issue before voters as a 2022 referendum.

Despite the fact that the deadline to introduce new legislation this session has passed, the Senate Delayed Bills Committee on Tuesday used its unique authority to advance the referendum proposal. The five-member panel cleared the proposed constitutional amendment for a first reading on the floor, after which point it will be assigned a committee.

It’s expected to be referred to the Senate Human Services Committee.

The text of the proposal that would go before voters simply states: “The legislative assembly shall authorize and regulate the manufacture, sales, and use of adult-use cannabis in the state.”

It would be up to lawmakers to craft legislation to enact legalization in a following session if voters sign off on the general idea at the ballot box.

The new legislative moves comes as activists with the group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus are collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment legalizing cannabis for the 2022 ballot. A separate group, Legalize ND, is also planning to push for a legalization ballot measure, though details of that initiative are yet to be seen.

What that means is that, if the legislature approves the latest proposal from Sen. Dick Dever (R), North Dakota could see as many as three legalization questions on their ballot next year—a situation that could create significant complications for activists as voters attempt to choose their preferred option, potentially splitting support such that no measure receives a majority.

Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R) said that lawmakers are concerned that a “loud minority” of North Dakota residents would approve an expansive, advocate-led ballot measure, and so the new resolution represents an alternative that would enable the legislature to set more restrictive rules that wouldn’t, for example, allow home cultivation.

“Sometimes the best defense is when you go on offense,” Wardner told The Grand Forks Herald. “If it’s voted down—yes, I like it. I don’t want [recreational marijuana], but I’m not going to let the other two options be out there all by themselves.”

Legalize ND was among certain pro-legalization groups that were supportive of the separate House-passed legalization bill that died on the Senate floor, recognizing that it would be a step in the right direction, even if it’s more restrictive than what activists might prefer.

But David Owen, chairman of the organization, told Marijuana Moment that he views the new Senate resolution as a “cynical attempt to argue that they are creating a legalization program without actually creating a legalization program.”

He described what he sees as “fatal flaws” with the measure, including that its brief text lays out no deadline for lawmakers to follow through on enacting a legalization law if voters approve the ballot question.

“As a result, the bill could simply pass, the voters to vote ‘yes’ on it and then the legislature could choose to do nothing,” Owen said.

He also slammed the proposal’s lack of a definition for what “adult-use cannabis” is, suggesting that lawmakers could later interpret it to “mean that only individuals over the age of 99 years of age are allowed” to consume marijuana.

Finally, Owen raised concerns about the measure’s use of the term “cannabis,” which is a broad term encompassing both marijuana and hemp.

“In theory, you could simply say, ‘North Dakota already has legal cannabis use. It’s called hemp.’ And what they could then do is say, ‘so long as it contains less than point 0.3 percent THC, they’re free to use it,'” he said. “That essentially creates a cop-out where they’re not actually legalizing THC.”

“This resolution is so poorly written that it either does absolutely nothing or it could do everything. What does it do? Who knows? This is why you don’t write laws that are 10 words long,” Owen said. “I think they intentionally wrote it in such a way to mislead the voters to say, ‘hey, we’re going to legalize marijuana if you vote yes on this, except we’re not, and we’re lying to you.'”

Owen’s group placed a legalization measure on the 2018 ballot that was defeated by voters. They tried to qualify another initiative last year but signature gathering complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic got in the way.

The organization is now in the process of finalizing its strategy for the 2022 ballot.

Meanwhile, a bill to significantly expand marijuana decriminalization in North Dakotacleared the House last month and was later defeated in the Senate.

That legislation would have built upon an initial marijuana decriminalization law that was enacted in 2019. Under the current statute, possession of half an ounce or less of cannabis is an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, with no jail time. The new proposal would’ve made possession of up to an ounce a non-criminal offense that carried a $50 fine.

House Majority Leader Chet Pollert (R) has said that he’s not “a marijuana person,” but he’s acknowledged that cannabis legalization is coming. While he would have previously been inclined to oppose a legalization bill, Pollert said voter approval of a legalization initiative in South Dakota has made him reconsider, adding that the legislature should “take a long, hard look” at the policy change.

That said, a South Dakota state judge ruled that last year’s voter-approved legalization initiative is unconstitutional and cannot go forward—though advocates have appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.

Neighboring Montana also moved to legalize marijuana for adult use during the November election, adding to the regional pressure to get on board. Canada, which also borders the state, has a national legal cannabis market.

North Dakota voters approved a medical cannabis ballot measure in 2016.

Read the text of the new North Dakota marijuana legalization resolution by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.

Petitioners fall short on North Dakota marijuana ballot measure

Supporters of a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana through North Dakota's constitution have again fallen short of signatures to prompt a public vote.
Their deadline was Jan. 22 to submit at least 31,164 valid signatures to the secretary of state. They did not do so.
Measure sponsoring committee member Dustin Peyer, of Driscoll, told the Tribune on Sunday that the group gathered 19,500 signatures in its one-year time limit.
Supporters already are forming committees to propose two future ballot measures related to quality and accessibility of medical marijuana -- which is legal in North Dakota -- and use of recreational marijuana by people ages 21 and older, he said.
Peyer said the signature threshold "is a lot of signatures for an unpaid volunteer effort."

"We grew support across the state through a network of small businesses," he said.
"The biggest obstacle is those who are pushing the hardest are disabled, parents, business owners, or have generally a lot going on in their life."
Petitioners also have faced backlash in their efforts, he said.
Measure Chairwoman Jody Vetter, of Bismarck, did not return phone messages or an email regarding signature-gathering.
The proposed measure would have restricted recreational marijuana to people 21 and older, banned its use in public, and allowed the Legislature to license and regulate the industry. The measure also would have allowed home-growing of up to 12 plants.
The effort was another shot after an unsuccessful try in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hampered the group's signature-gathering.
Marijuana was a major topic in the Republican-controlled Legislature last year. State representatives brought bills to legalize and tax the drug as an effort to head off Vetter's group, but the Senate killed the House-passed bills, along with one to decriminalize marijuana. The Senate also rejected the introduction of a proposed ballot measure.
Two other proposed ballot measures for voters this year would put term limits on the governor and the Legislature, and would raise the bar for amending the state constitution.
Those petition deadlines are not for a few months.
North Dakota voters in 2016 approved of a state medical marijuana program; in 2018 they rejected recreational marijuana by 59%

North Dakota marijuana legalization groups aims for November election

A group that wants to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota submitted paperwork Monday to the secretary of state to begin the approval process.​

If approved by the secretary of state, the group would need to gather 15,582 signatures by July 11 to get the measure on the ballot for the general election in November.

The proposed measure would allow any person over the age of 21 to use limited amounts of marijuana and purchase products from registered establishments in North Dakota. The measure would put policies in place to regulate retail stores, cultivators, and other types of marijuana businesses.

A similar effort failed in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hampered the group’s signature-gathering.

Marijuana was a major topic in the Republican-controlled Legislature last year. State representatives brought bills to legalize and tax the drug, but the Senate killed the bills that were passed by the House.
So ridiculous........ like typical fabric doesn't smell when it's burned?

North Dakota Resolution On Hemp-Based U.S. Flags Advances, With One Lawmaker Concerned About ‘Odors’ From Flag Burning

A North Dakota House committee has approved a resolution that encourages residents to buy U.S. flags that are made out of hemp—even as one lawmaker expressed concern about whether “odors” from people burning flags would be an issue.

The concurrent resolution, which is being sponsored by five House members and three senators, cleared the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday in a 12-0-1 vote.

The “whereas” section says that “historians assert the first United States flags were made from hemp,” and the crop is both stronger than cotton and “fades less than other fabrics.”

“North Dakota citizens should demonstrate their patriotism by supporting local businesses in our state which manufacture United States flags made out of durable materials, such as hemp,” it continues.

The resolution wouldn’t require flags to be made out of hemp, but if it’s ultimately enacted, the legislature would be formally encouraging residents purchase flags produced from the cannabis crop.

At the hearing on Thursday, one lawmaker asked bill sponsor Rep. David Monson (R) about the feasibility of manufacturing hemp-based flags, and he explained that this is a process that’s been done for “thousands of years” and that the crop has been used to make products ranging from paper to automobiles.

Monson also took a question about whether smell-related issues could arise with people burning hemp flags, though he assured the fellow lawmaker that it wouldn’t be a problem.

A state Department of Agriculture official testified in favor of the resolution, calling it a “fantastic idea.”

Relatedly, the governor of New York recently signed a bill aimed at expanding the state’s hemp market by promoting collaborative partnerships to identify more opportunities to utilize the crop and its derivatives for packaging, construction and other purposes.

In Pennsylvania, officials announced late last year that they will be providing up to $200,000 in matched funding for marketing projects to promote the state’s hemp market.

Meanwhile, Army soldiers aren’t allowed to use hemp-derived CBD even if its federally legal—but the military branch solicited information last year about using hemp yarn in uniforms to help camouflage snipers.

Separately, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded funds to researchers last year to develop 3D-printed hempcrete to be used in building affordable housing.

DOE is also sponsoring a project to develop hemp fiber insulation that’s designed to be better for the environment and public health than conventional preparations are, the agency announced in 2021.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also announced in 2021 that it was awarding a Washington State-based company a $100,000 grant to support the development of sustainable bricks made from industrial hemp.

All of these are examples of how governments across the country have come to embrace hemp and its various uses since the crop was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Back in North Dakota, meanwhile, voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize marijuanaduring the November election.

The initiative was similar to a bill that was introduced in the legislature in 2021. The proposal from Rep. Jason Dockter (R) passed the House, but it was defeated in the full Senate after advancing out of committee there.

North Dakota voters approved a medical cannabis ballot measure in 2016.
A North Dakota House committee has approved a resolution that encourages residents to buy U.S. flags that are made out of hemp—even as one lawmaker expressed concern about whether “odors” from people burning flags would be an issue.

... im curious now if flag burning is that big of an issue for the state and/or usa ?

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