Initiative would legalize recreational marijuana in ND

Nov 29, 2017

Proposed petition for the legalization of marijuana.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

In 2016 – North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana.

Now another group wants to legalize “recreational pot.” That group has submitted a proposed initiated measure to Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

"It's time to end prohibition," said steering committee spokesman Josh Dryer of West Fargo. "There's no reason for it to be illegal -- nor should there ever have been a reason."

Dryer said one of his motivations to get involved in the drive to legalize marijuana was how things went with the medical marijuana measure – in that the 2017 Legislature rewrote the measure, delaying its implementation.

"With our bill, there's hardly anything to be figured out," Dryer said. "This bill concerns the actual legalization of it, unlike in the medical marijuana bill, where it was not decriminalized."

Instead, Dryer said marijuana would be treated the same under state law as alcohol. That means you would have to be 21 to legally use it.

"Say a 19 year old gets busted with a joint," Dryer said. "Instead of a possession charge, which would likely ruin his adult life, he would get an "MIP" (Minor in Possession) -- the same if he was caught with a beer."

Dryer said he has already from a number of people who told him they didn’t vote for the medical marijuana measure because they were waiting for a full decriminalization measure. He said he thinks this measure could well exceed the number of “yes” votes the medical marijuana measure received.

First, that group needs 13,452 valid signatures to get it on the ballot. Dryer said the plan is to have it before voters in the November, 2018 general election.