North Dakota Legislature rewrites voter-approved medical marijuana program


Last update: June 23, 2017


When 64% of North Dakotans said yes to medical marijuana last November, seriously ill patients in the state were thrilled that they would finally be able to access their medicine. However, lawmakers undertook a significant rewriting of the law, the final version of which was signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum on April 17, 2017.

While some of the provisions of the voter-approved medical cannabis measure — such as home cultivation for patients who live more than 40 miles from a dispensary — did not make it into the final bill, much of the voters’ will remains intact. And, crucially, the language of the final law ensures patients will not be subject to criminal prosecution under state law — language that was absent from the voter measure. Please check out this detailed summary of the new law.

Note that it still may be a full year before patients can actually enroll in the program and start their medical cannabis treatment. Please be sure to sign up for MPP email updates so we can alert you on the continued progress of North Dakota’s medical cannabis program.

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.

Stay connected:
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in North Dakota, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.

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.