Voters in North Dakota will vote on a recreational marijuana initiative this November, officials announced Monday. Secretary of State Al Jaegers has verified that activists have collected enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
Dave Owen is the leader of Legalize ND, the group that sponsored the initiative. He said that it is “very simple” and “implementable on day one,” according to local media.
“This (measure) is basically a referendum,” Owen said. “Do you want recreational marijuana? Yes or no.”
In July, Legalize ND submitted 17,695 signatures from North Dakotans who support the measure. The secretary of state’s office determined that 14,637 of the signatures were valid, exceeding the 13,452 necessary to qualify for the ballot.
No Limits on Possession, Cultivation
If passed, the initiative will legalize personal possession and cultivation of cannabis in North Dakota. But unlike laws that have legalized recreational cannabis use in other states, the North Dakota initiative does not set any limits on the amount of cannabis a person can possess or grow. The measure also authorizes commercial cultivation and sales of marijuana.
Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), congratulated the activists who worked to qualify the initiative for November’s election.
“We applaud the hard work and dedication from the campaign and countless volunteers on the ground in North Dakota who went door to door and out into their communities to gather the signatures required to put this on the ballot in November,” Altieri said.
“Marijuana legalization is no longer a regional or partisan issue. Well over 60% of all Americans support ending our nation’s failed prohibition and I expect North Dakota voters to send shockwaves across the country this fall when they join the growing contingent of states who have chosen the sensible path of legalization and regulation over prohibition and incarceration,” he added.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has already voiced his opposition to the measure. In June, he told reporters that he does not believe that cannabis legalization will be good for the state.
“It could put pressure on the treatment providers because there are a number of people who are in treatment where marijuana is their No. 1 drug of choice, so I think it just might shift the law enforcement issues from one place to another,” Stenehjem said. “I’ve said for a long time that I don’t think, if marijuana is legalized in North Dakota, we will be healthier or safer.”
Patients Still Waiting for Medical Marijuana
If the recreational cannabis initiative is successful this fall, it could speed legal access to medical marijuana for patients in the state. In 2016, voters passed the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent, legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis. But nearly two years later, details of the law are still bogged down in the state legislature and the measure has yet to be implemented. The state has announced that it has received close to 20 applications for dispensary licenses, but sales are not expected to begin until next year.