Lawmakers hearing frustration from constituents on implementing Medical Marijuana law

Aug 8, 2018

State Health Department Medical Marijuana division director Jason Wahl testifies before the interim Judiciary Committee.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Legislators on an interim committee overseeing the implementation of the Medical Marijuana law say they’re hearing frustration from their constituents about how long the process has been taking.

But the head of the State Health Department’s Medical Marijuana division said other states have experienced this kind of time lag from when the measure was passed to when the product becomes available.

Jason Wahl told the interim Judiciary Committee it normally takes between 18 and 24 months to get such a program implemented, based on the experience of other states. Bismarck and Fargo were chosen to have manufacturing operations – and Wahl said he’s waiting for the cities to give their approval to those plans.

"Wer're still hoping, as far as product availability, if not by the end of this year, early into 2019," Wahl told the Committee.

Sen. John Grabinger (D-Jamestown) told Wahl he understands the process the Department has had to undertake to make sure everything is done correctly – but the voters are frustrated.

"It's frustration with something they passed nearly two years ago," Grabinger said. "It still isn't implemented. And it's probably what's leading us to the question that's going to be on the ballot in November."

That issue would decriminalize recreational marijuana. The language hasn’t yet been approved for the ballot.

Wahl says the Department hasn’t yet looked on what effect that measure would have on medical marijuana. And he said he understands the voters' concerns over medical marijuana.

"Making the statement that in other states it's an 18 to 24 month process really doesn't make them feel any better," Wahl said. "But we're between that 18 to 24 month period."