North Dakota Eliminates Jail Time for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana
Gov. Doug Burgum signed a compromise bill approved by the Republican-controlled Legislative Assembly that will reclassify penalties for marijuana possession offenses
BISMARCK, N.D. — 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.