On August 15, the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office announced that the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative had received enough signatures to be put on the ballot. Come November, North Dakota voters will decide whether to legalize adult recreational use of cannabis in their state.
If voters pass New Approach North Dakota’s sponsored ballot, individuals over the age of 21 would be legally allowed to have one ounce of marijuana, four grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of cannabis in an infected product, and It will be cultivated. Up to three cannabis plants. The Department of Health and Human Services would also be required to establish rules on the production and distribution of marijuana starting October 1, 2023. The sale and distribution of cannabis products will be limited to seven licensed farming facilities and eighteen licensed retailers.
Additionally, “public consumption of marijuana will not be permitted; driving under the influence will remain illegal; and those who give marijuana to minors will be punished.”
This isn’t the first time North Dakota voters have been asked to consider legalizing cannabis in their state. In 2018, Measure 3, sponsored by Legalization ND, was put on the ballot for voters to consider. This was similar to the current measure but included built-in criminal justice reform for convictions and sentences related to cannabis. This would have allowed all people with a criminal record to have their record automatically terminated for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses. Measure 3 was rejected by voters in 2018 when 59.45% of voters chose “no” on the ballot.
North Dakota’s Legislative Process
For initiatives to make it on the ballot in North Dakota, the measure must first be approved by petition of at least 15,582 valid signatures (2% of the state’s current population). The responsible committee must submit all the collected signatures at least 120 days before the election day.
New Approach North Dakota, the initiative’s sponsor, submitted a proposed petition to the Secretary of State before it was approved for circulation and signature gathering on April 21. When the submission deadline approached on July 11, the New Approach North Dakota campaign submitted more than 25,000 signatures. To the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. 15, it was confirmed: The North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative will be on the ballot this November.
Barriers to cannabis legalization
North Dakota legislators have previously blocked measures aimed at legalizing cannabis use. In 2021, State Representative Jason Docter (R) introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. On February 23, 2021, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a measure known as House Bill 1420, with 56 votes in favor and 38 against. Democrats cast 14 of the 56 yes votes, and Republicans cast another 42 yes votes.
However, when the bill went to the North Dakota State Senate on March 25, 2021, it lost 10 to 37. Only three Democratic state senators and seven Republican state senators voted in favor of the bill. Because the bill was rejected in the state Senate, cannabis was not legalized in 2021 and voters are now tasked with making a decision again in November.
Advocates cite positive changes in neighboring states
While voters rejected the 2018 ballot initiative to legalize cannabis, advocates believe the 2022 North Dakota marijuana legalization initiative has a fighting chance this November.
David Owen, current campaign manager for New Approach ND and former president of Legalize ND, the organization that sponsored the 2018 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, spoke with KFYR News’ Erica Craven about how the 2022 measure compares to previous initiatives. does. “The biggest difference between now and 2018,” Owen explained, “is banned, regulated, controlled, legal marijuana. It’s a marijuana program very similar to the one that passed the North Dakota State House,” Owen said. .
Supporters of the initiative believe that its passage will remove barriers to mental health care and create more opportunities for residents of the state in a safe and restricted manner. Republican State Representative Matthew Ruby talks with Kyle Yeager of Marijuana Moment about his thoughts on the 2022 ballot initiative. “It removes barriers for North Dakota veterans and others with health conditions who need access to cannabis for medical reasons,” Ruby shared.
“It will also create good jobs and new economic opportunities for the farmers in our state. With appropriate controls and regulations, this measure represents a responsible approach to legalization. Our neighbors in Montana are demonstrating that legalization of cannabis can work successfully. Now it’s our turn to move on.”
Campaign finances look different in 2022
In 2018, Legalizing ND and Legalizing North Dakota raised a little over $88 thousand, spending 77 thousand in unsuccessful attempts to pass Ballot Initiative 3.
This year, the New Approach Political Action Committee (PAC) from Washington, DC raised more than half a million dollars specifically for the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative. New Approach PAC is a 527 non-profit organization created in 2014, and has raised more than $10 million for various states’ efforts to support marijuana legalization and medical marijuana initiatives. He put $302,644 in in-kind donations.
In addition, the primary donors to the New Approach North Dakota Ballot Measurement so far are medical dispensaries, a real estate firm, and other active organizations designed to raise funds to promote the legalization of cannabis in the United States. The Marijuana Policy Project, the leading organization supporting the legalization of cannabis in the US, donated $50,893 to the campaign fund.
Two medical marijuana dispensaries in North Dakota, Pure Dakota LLC and Strive Life Grand Forks, donated $70,000 and $17,500, respectively, to the fund. GR Real Estate Holdings OH-ND, LLC also made a gift of $87,500 to PAC.
In 2018, the North Dakota Petroleum Council helped fund the opposition to the campaign to legalize cannabis. However, in 2022, the organization decided to abstain to save its limited resources for other matters. So far, no other organization has publicly dedicated resources to oppose the measure.
Voters voted in North Dakota on November 8 to decide on the issue and term limits for elected officials within the state government. Absentee ballots and early voting must be returned and completed by November 7.
This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.
Maya (He/She) is a professional freelance writer and editor. His writing has been featured in Translate News & Narrative, Healthline’s Beazy Depression, HorrorPress, Episode Newsletter, and more. He is passionate about social justice, history and entertainment journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys watching horror movies, spending time with her girlfriend, and needle-feeling monster sculptures.