Last year, Legalize ND submitted petition language to put a statutory initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana before the voters in November. The campaign needed 13,452 voter signatures before July 6, 2020 to qualify for the ballot but was ultimately unable to qualify due to signature gathering challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Another campaign, aiming to pass a constitutional cannabis legalization initiative, has until July 22 to submit signatures. But that effort has also been severely impacted by the pandemic.
COVID-19 has also impacted North Dakota’s nascent medical marijuana program, which came online in 2019. In April of this year, a medical cannabis dispensary — The Botanist in Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city — announced it was closing due to sluggish sales and regulatory delays, according to owners. The store later reopened in May under a new name, Pure Dakota Health.
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.