With the secretary of state declaring the measure’s signatures valid, the question of legalizing adult-use cannabis will now be in the hands of North Dakota voters as “Initiated Statutory Measure No. 1” will be on the November general election ballot.
Measure 1 is largely based on language from a legislative cannabis legalization proposal that was approved by the North Dakota House of Representatives in 2021. If enacted by voters this year, it will allow adults 21 and older to possesses up to one ounce of cannabis and create a regulated marketplace for registered businesses to produce and sell cannabis by October 1, 2023. Home growing of up to three plants will also be allowed, though public consumption will be prohibited.
“Measure 1 is a conservative approach to cannabis legalization based on legislation passed by the North Dakota House of Representatives. It balances personal freedom with personal responsibility,” Republican state representative and sponsorship committee member Matthew Ruby said in a press release. “As voters have a chance to review the measure in detail, I’m confident a majority will agree this is the right approach for North Dakota.”
NORML executive director Erik Altieri noted in a press release that North Dakota has one of the highest marijuana arrest rates in the country and said he expects voters to “send a loud and clear message” about taking a new approach.
“Legalization will not only bring justice to thousands of North Dakotans, but it will also provide a new, booming industry that will help local businesses and the countless family farms in the state,” Altieri said.
The new measure also sets license caps at seven manufacturing facilities and 18 dispensaries. There does not appear to be a social justice or social equity component to the measure.
North Dakota voters approved the legalization of medical cannabis in 2016 and there are currently eight dispensaries open across the state. The state decriminalized possession of up to a half-ounce of cannabis flower in 2019, but possession of other forms of cannabis, such as hashish, is still currently a felony and can result in up to five years of jail time.
— Brian Beckley