North Dakota awards medical marijuana manufacturer licenses


Last update: May 29, 2018


In May 2018, the Department of Health awarded licenses to the two businesses — Pure Dakota (Bismarck) and Grassroots Cannabis (Fargo) — to grow and process marijuana for the state’s medical program. It also awarded the laboratory contract to Keystone State Testing, which will be doing business in Fargo as Dakota State Testing.

In November 2016, 64% of North Dakotans voted to allow medical marijuana. Next, lawmakers rewrote the law, making both improvements and restrictions. The final version was signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum on April 17, 2017.

Then, the Department of Health developed regulations to implement the program. In March 2018, the Department of Health began accepting applications for the two medical marijuana manufacturing licenses, and it issued licenses in May. The department has not announced a timeline for dispensary applications but has released a plan for one dispensary to be located in each of eight designated regions. After the dispensary license recipients have been announced, the state will begin patient and caregiver registrations.

Decriminalization and prohibition


North Dakota has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. First offense possession of even a single joint is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

These severe penalties disproportionately affect racial minorities. A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in North Dakota are 4.4 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Take action


Speak out:
Please take a moment to send a letter to your legislators asking them to reduce the penalty for possession of marijuana to a civil fine or asking them to end marijuana prohibition entirely.

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Contact us:
If you support reform and are a medical professional, a seriously ill patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, or you know someone else that is, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Please include your address or nine-digit zip code.