Activists say 2020 adult-use legalization ballot initiative unlikely to qualify due to COVID-19
Last update: April 23, 2020
Last year, Legalize ND submitted petition language to put an initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana before the voters in November. The campaign needs 13,452 voter signatures before July 6, 2020 to qualify for the ballot.
As a result of COVID-19 and public health guidelines restricting social interactions, campaign leaders said that the campaign was unlikely to gather enough signatures to succeed this year.
In 2018, North Dakotans rejected a proposal to legalize marijuana for adults 59% to 41%. The 2020 proposed measure would create a system to license marijuana businesses, establish a 10% tax on marijuana sales, and prohibit home cultivation. The initiative would also allow individuals to remove low-level marijuana convictions from their criminal records. Legalize ND says they are now looking ahead with plans to support a legalization ballot initiative in 2022.
COVID-19 has also impacted North Dakota’s nascent medical marijuana program, which came online in 2019. In April of this year, The Botanist in Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city, announced it was closing due to sluggish sales and regulatory delays, according to owners.
North Dakota becomes 25th state to eliminate jail time for low-level marijuana possession!
With Gov. Doug Burgum’s signature on House Bill 1050, North Dakota removed jail time penalties for adults 21 and older who possess up to half an ounce of marijuana in May 2019. The final legislation was the product of a conference committee made up of members from the House and Senate of North Dakota’s Republican-controlled state legislature.
North Dakota’s new law went into effect on August 1 last year. It reclassifies possession of up to a half ounce of marijuana 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 study adult-use legalization. A detailed summary of HB 1050 is available here.