Medical Marijuana bill clears another hurdle

Feb 21, 2017

Sen. Judy Lee (R-West Fargo).
Credit Courtesy ND Legislature

The state Senate has approved amendments to the Medical Marijuana bill.

As originally proposed, the hill would not have allowed smoking marijuana. But the amendments spell out the idea that with a doctor’s permission, a patient can smoke from the leaves and flowers of the plant.

"Leafs and flowers? That's pot," said Sen. Oley Larson (R-Minot). "That's not medicine."

Larson had proposed allowing people to smoke “hash resin” instead.

"We're letting a dragon out of the bag," Larson told his Senate colleagues. "By having resin in a smokable form, we're trying to keep a chain on this dragon."

Sena. Judy Lee (R-West Fargo)  chairs the Senate Human Services Committee. She said the two are different -- hash is a felony drug, while marijuana is a misdemeanor controlled substance. But she understands Larson’s concerns.

"I really worry about where this leads our state," Lee said. "I see what's happening in some of the other states where the (use of marijuana) has opened up even more. And it's frightening to see what it's doing."

Lee said this is one of the toughest bills she's worked on -- but she said the idea is to give the voters what they want. The initiated measure passed in the 2016 November election.

The amendment passed 40 to 6. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee – and it will be back on the floor this week. Lee said the bill will likely change again before it’s finally passed.