Cannabis in North Dakota

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Cannabis in North Dakota concerns the drug cannabis in North Dakota, United States, where cannabis was legalized for medical purposes in 2016 but remains illegal for recreational purposes. Possession of small recreational amounts is a misdemeanor crime.[1] The cultivation of hemp is currently legal in North Dakota.[2] In November 2018, the state’s voters will vote on recreational marijuana legalization, along with Michigan.[3]

Prohibition[edit]

Marijuana was made illegal in North Dakota in 1933; Oklahoma made it illegal the same year, and South Dakota in 1931.[4]

Medical marijuana[edit]

Failed attempts (2015)[edit]

In 2015, House Bill 1430 attempted to establish a medical marijuana framework, but was voted down at 26-67 in February. Members of the House Human Services Committee stated: “We just felt that the concerns and the risks at this point in time outweigh the potential benefits … for a small group that feels that none of the currently available drugs work”.[5] Following the bill’s failure, Fargo resident Rilie Ray Morgan began the process of preparing a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana for the 2016 general election.[6]

Medical legalization (2016)[edit]

In 2016, North Dakota voters approved Measure 5, establishing a medical cannabis program for their state.[7] In 2017, both houses of the state legislature passed changes to Measure 5, including removal of a provision allowing medical users to grow their own marijuana. The changes also required that a medical professional specifically recommend smoking as a method of using marijuana in some cases. Some backers of the ballot initiative were displeased with the legislation, saying that some of the regulations were not justifiable.[8] The bill passed both houses of the ND State Legislature with the required two-thirds majority. As of July 10, 2018, the North Dakota Department of Health has opened an application window for medical cannabis dispensary licenses in the Bismark and Fargo areas.[9]

Medical Marijuana Program[edit]

Effective April 18, 2017, the North Dakota Department of Health established and implemented a medical marijuana program to allow the production, processing, sale, dispensing, and medical use of marijuana by qualifying patients and caregivers.[10] In May 2018, Pure Dakota LLC and Grassroots Cannabis were selected to run the two manufacturing facilities allowed under the program’s rules.[11]

Polling[edit]

A late-2014 poll conducted by the University of North Dakota found that North Dakotans favored medical marijuana 47-41, but were against legalizing recreational marijuana, 24-68.[12]

A 2018 poll showed that North Dakotans favored the recreational marijuana ballot initiative 46-39 with 15 percent undecided.[13]

Legislation[edit]

Personal use possession of less than half an ounce is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 days imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Personal use possession of less than half an ounce while operating a motor vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000. Personal use possession of half an ounce – 1 ounce is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $1,000.[14]

References[edit]